By Brian Dzenis
Western Reserve punched above its weight to collect its seventh straight victory. The Division IV Blue Devils used a four-run sixth inning to beat Division II Ursuline, 7-3, on Wednesday.
“It’s huge. It’s a real confidence booster. We have a great team and I think we know it,” Blue Devils third baseman Jeep DiCioccio said. “This is my fourth year and there’s something different about this team. It’s just this feeling. We really feel and know each other well.”
Western Reserve remains unbeaten on the season at 7-0. The Blue Devils trailed through the first five innings before tying the game in the fifth and completing the rally in the sixth.
“There was no panic with us. We have a great group of guys and we clawed back,” DiCioccio said.
Down 3-2 at the top of the fifth, shortstop Wyatt Larimer led off with a double before DiCioccio singled him home to tie the game. In the sixth, relief pitcher Ryan Demsky knocked in the go-ahead run before DiCioccio sent home Larimer for the second time. Ursuline conceded the final two runs on an error.
“I liked how it finished, but I didn’t like how it started,” Western Reserve coach Ed Anthony said.
The Irish tagged Blue Devil starter Dom Velasquez for three hits, two walks and a struck batter while taking a 3-0 lead in the first inning. Ursuline third baseman Josh Sheetz hit a two-run single and first baseman Dan Leslie added an RBI-single.
The Irish (3-7) couldn’t get another hit for the rest of game and stranded seven runners after the first.
“I think we got into a cocoon a little bit. We jumped out early against Struthers the other day and I think we saw flashbacks to that game,” said Ursuline coach Matt Weymer, referencing a 17-4 victory against the Wildcats. “We didn’t string enough good at-bats together after that first inning. We got up 3-0 and we thought they would roll over and hand it to us.
“That’s a team that’s been to state a few times. They have guys that are hungry. They made all the plays in the field and we still struggle to field in spots.”
For the majority of Ursuline’s games, half the lineup includes two freshman and three sophomores. With the loss, the Irish have dropped six of their last seven games.
“We have moments of good baseball, but we don’t string them together. We’ll have games where we have 13 or 14 hits and tonight where we have three hits and we pack it in and go home,” Weymer said. “We also average about four errors a game and when you have more errors than hits, you’re losing that game.”
Velasquez went four innings for the Blue Devils, giving up three hits on four hits and six walks while striking out four and hitting a batter.
Demsky relieved him and picked up the win with three shutout and hitless innings. He struck out two and walked two.
Sheetz took the loss for Ursuline in relief. He gave up five runs — three earned — on three hits and two walks while earning one strikeout.
Bobby Cavalier got the start for the Irish. He allowed two runs — one earned — on three hits and a walk while striking out four.
Western Reserve picked up two runs in the third when Demsky scored on an Ursuline error and Velasquez hit a single to left field to score Larimer.
Larimer was 2 for 3 with three runs scored for the winning side. Vince Armeni had the other hit for the Irish.