Devils’ Larimer blanks Sebring
By MIKE McLAIN
As of today, Western Reserve senior Wyatt Larimer is committed to Kent State University as a student.
In the near future it’s safe to assume that “/athlete” will be added before the “student” designation. Larimer, who pitched a two-hit, five-inning shutout Friday in the Blue Devils’ 10-0 win over the Sebring Trojans, is just awaiting word from the KSU administration on the clearance to receive an athletic scholarship.
Larimer’s performance in a Division IV sectional final can only solidify his status as a Golden Flash. He improved his career record to 25-1 and his 2017 mark to 8-0, while lowering an earned-run average that was 0.39 entering play.
“It’s been the same thing all four years that I’ve had him,” Devils coach Ed Anthony said. “He started as a freshman. His ERA this year is sitting as a record for the school.
“A lot of people can say it’s the Division or whatever. You have to remember that Champion has a good squad, and we beat them. He beat Ursuline, LaBrae and East Palestine. We’re putting him up against everybody’s ace.”
Larimer retired nine straight batters after Drew Kleinman reached on an error leading off the top of the first inning. Brandon Gray and Jarrod Hunter singled leading off the fourth for the Trojans, but Larimer retired the next three batters to end the threat and the final six before the Devils scored six runs in the bottom of the fifth to end the game.
Larimer struck out 12 of the 18 batters he faced, including four on a called third strike. He didn’t allow a walk.
“I definitely felt in control,” Larimer said. “Our offense getting off to a good start really helped me pitch comfortably. I felt really in control with all of my pitches.”
The Devils, who are 19-4 and seeded first in the Struthers district, scored three unearned runs in the first off Gray, who started but was relieved by Camden Green after 12/3 innings. Western Reserve took advantage of four Sebring errors to score eight unearned runs.
Western Reserve, which had eight hits, needed a few innings to figure out Green. Two errors in the fifth aided the Devils’ cause.
“We are still not hitting the ball like normal,” Anthony said. “I’ve been here eight years, and we peak around tournament time. Our pitching has been decent. Our defense has been solid, but our hitting has been hit and miss. We’re going to find out as we go along this tournament trail if we’ve overcome some of that.”
Seven different hitters collected at least one hit for the Devils. Justine Ciccone had two singles and drove in one run. Ryan Slaven drove in a pair of runs with a two-out single in the first.
Kleinman was the only Sebring runner to advance to third. After reaching on the error in the first, he moved to second on a balk and to third on a ground out. Larimer then retired Brandon Dare on a popup.
The win was the first step on what the Devils hope will be another long tournament run. They advanced to the state semifinals in 2014, the state final in 2015 and the regional final last year.
“My class having won district the last three years, it feels good knowing we have the experience going into the district,” Larimer said. “The potential is there.”
Western Reserve faces McDonald at 4:30 p.m on Wednesday at Cene Park in a district semifinal.