By Ryan Jones
The Rebels advanced to district play with a 9-5 win over Campbell.
CAMPBELL—It’s been a trying season for Crestview High’s baseball team and coach Rick Gates, but the Rebels’ tournament run has made the regular season shortcomings seem antiquated.
After beating Lisbon 20-1 Tuesday, the Rebels used a six-run fifth inning to dispose of Campbell Memorial, 9-5, Thursday in a Division III sectional final.
Crestview (9-16) will play Ursuline in a district semifinal at Cene Park next Monday.
Gates said his team has refused to pack it in for the season.
“This win is a great confidence builder for us,” he said. “We’ve worked hard throughout a struggling season. Coach Hill and I are proud of how this team has continued to improve. We beat Lisbon in five innings in a first-round game. Coming here we knew that they [Campbell] had a bye and knew by the competition of the [Metro Athletic Conference] that we’d have to play well to win.”
Trailing 3-1 in the fourth, Crestview’s offense began to get on track.
Carter Hill walked, advanced to second on Nick Wylie’s fielder’s choice and scored when Tom Marnejon ripped a RBI single to right center. Wylie, who went to third on Marnejon’s single, tied the contest at three when he scored on a wild pitch.
The Rebels broke the tie with a seven-hit, six-inning barrage in the fifth. Corey Hill and Mike Ceryone singled to begin the frame. After Brian Peppel flied out, Carter Hill singled to right to load the bases. Wylie laced a two-run single to center that scored Corey Hill and Ceryone for a 5-3 lead.
Gates thought the fifth inning was paramount for his team’s confidence.
“We put the bat on the ball and were fortunate to string some hits together,” he said. “Up to that point in the game I felt that we were a bit unsure of ourselves. From the fifth inning on we believed that not only could we play with them, but we could beat them.”
Carter Hill scored on single by Greg Bing, and Wylie touched home on a single by Josh Orr to increase the lead to 7-3. Marnejon, who bunt for a hit, and Bing both scored on a error.
While the Rebels offense put up crooked numbers, the left-handed Marnejon kept the Red Devils’ bats quiet.
Campbell scored three runs in the first, but the freshman responded with five shutout innings. Marnejon tossed six plus innings, allowed five hits, four runs (one earned), and struck out six.
Gates said the decision to add Marnejon (2-0) to the rotation happened about a week ago.
“We planned on facing Campbell’s number one pitcher, and we knew we’d have our number two going,” he said. “Tommy [Marnejon] is only a freshman, but he’s always around the plate with his pitches and mixes speeds and locations well. He was a little nervous, but it speaks highly of his character for him to bounce back after the first inning. He pitched great in the middle innings and only ran into trouble when he became tired.”
Campbell made a comeback bid in the seventh, but stalled after scoring two runs to cut the lead to 9-5. Darian Bell scored on a wild pitch and Leo Bonilla scored on a single by Tom Hofus, but Corey Hill, who relieved Marnejon, retired the next two Campbell hitters to end the game.
Campbell coach Rick Gozur said his team was without their number one pitcher, who missed the game because of illness.
“We helped Crestview out tonight by swinging at a bad pitches,” he said. “Their pitchers were able to get ahead of us and then we became defensive at the plate. We left seven runners on base. So the opportunities were there, but we couldn’t get those guys home. And you can’t win games leaving that many on base.”