DiCioccio pitches Western Reserve into district final rematch
By charles grove
Jeep DiCioccio pitched a complete game to help Western Reserve defeat Lisbon 6-1 and secure a spot in the Division IV district final Wednesday against Jackson-Milton.
The win allows for a grudge match between the Blue Devils and the Bluejays. The two teams met in the district final last year (Western Reserve won 3-1) and split their two games earlier this season.
“We’re hungry. This is who we wanted to play,” DiCioccio said. “I love playing against them. It’s always competitive and it’s always a lot of fun.”
DiCioccio allowed just two hits and no earned runs in the victory.
Western Reserve didn’t need time to settle in as the Blue Devils jumped all over Lisbon starter Noah Barnes, chasing him after only two-thirds of an inning. Barnes gave up three runs on two hits and three walks, one with the bases loaded, before head coach Doug Andric made the switch to David Toot.
Toot had one inherited runner score on a passed ball, but got out of the first, leaving his team still within striking distance.
Western Reserve struck again in the fourth after Dom Velasquez led off reaching on a dropped third strike. A passed ball advanced Velasquez before Drew Slaven singled to bring him in to make it 4-0.
Toot ran into issues again an inning later when he walked Ryan Demsky to lead off the fifth. Demsky moved up on a groundout and DiCioccio doubled him home a batter later. Jake Clark reached on an error the next at-bat and a passed ball allowed DiCioccio to score, putting Western Reserve comfortably ahead 6-0.
Lisbon finally got on the board in the sixth when Cam Summers brought home Avery Andric on a fly ball to center. Centerfielder Logan Matas got turned around, allowing the ball to fall and Lisbon avoided a shutout.
Playing at the district level was a new experience for Lisbon and Doug Andric said nerves were a factor, especially early on.
“This is the first time Lisbon’s been up here in 13 years,” he said. “I think [Barnes] was a little nervous since we haven’t been this far. They’ve got lots of experience where we haven’t had any so I’m very proud of my team today.”
Western Reserve head coach Ed Anthony said Wyatt Larimer, who has been injured much of the year, will pitch against Jackson-Milton. The one-two punch of him and DiCioccio, along with timely hitting, will need to be strong if the Blue Devils are to return to the state tournament, according to Anthony.
“Wyatt’s got to get closer to 100 percent healthy and Jeep’s got to have another performance like he did today for us to get back. But it’s also going to take better hitting,” Anthony said.