Woodridge bounces East Palestine, 2-0
Brett Crocker fired a two-hitter at the Bulldogs.
By BILL SULLIVAN
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
STRUTHERS -- When Woodridge High pitcher Brett Crocker saw that he could not win the game with his throwing arm alone, he called on his bat to decide it.
Crocker pitched and hit Woodridge to a 2-0 win over East Palestine Friday in a Division III district baseball tournament championship game at Cene Park.
Woodridge (23-4) will play in the Massillon regional next Friday.
Crocker (6-1) held East Palestine (20-5) to just two hits and struck out 13.
"All season long we came through hitting," East Palestine coach John Snyder said. "We came up a little short tonight."
Crocker was most effective when he had to be -- never once did Palestine have two men on base at the same time.
To go with his 13 strikeouts, Crocker enticed East Palestine hitters to ground out seven times.
"The kid had great control," Snyder said of Crocker.
"He hit his spots, his curve ball was working nice, he kept our batters out of the box. He kept us all over the bat. He had total control."
Still, the game remained scoreless until the last of the fifth. With one out, East Palestine starter Jake Harvey (3-2) hit a Woodridge batter.
One out later Crocker came to the plate. Crocker tripled to dead center and scored on a throwing error to make it 2-0.
Despite allowing Woodridge four extra-base hits, Harvey was never in serious trouble and was the beneficiary of a sturdy defense.
East Palestine's finest moment of defense came in the third inning when Pat Figley, playing center field, covered a lot of ground and dove, Kenny Lofton-like, to catch a sinking batted ball.
"Pat Figley has been making those catches all year," Snyder said. "He's been probably the best center fielder I've seen all year in our league and anybody we played."
East Palestine also had its chances on the attack but failed to capitalize on the chances.
"We put a runner on almost every inning," Snyder said.
"We moved them around. We just couldn't get that hit to knock them in."
In the third inning, an East Palestine player was hit by a pitch and reached second on a passed ball. He was retired on a ground ball hit to third, squandering the opportunity.
Three other times, East Palestine ended innings with men on first base and twice they advanced players on third but didn't score them.
The 20 wins makes this the most successful season in East Palestine history.