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West Branch knocks out Ursuline 6-0

CANTON — West Branch baseball coach Rick Mulinix loves to talk about baseball. He played it since he was a youngster and then turned to coaching, the last 15 as an assistant and head coach at his alma mater.

But ask him about Thursday’s 6-0 victory over Ursuline in a Division II regional semifinal, and he just smiles with, “We’ve got Big-Time Beau.”

As in Beau Alazaus, the Warriors’ (25-6) outstanding senior pitcher. The Walsh University commit made good on being near his next destination — Thurman Munson Stadium, the site of the regional, is about 5 miles away — tossed a complete-game four-hitter, striking out eight.

Improving his record to 10-1 this season (tying a school record for individual victories), Alazaus guided West Branch to a regional final for the first time since 2008. The Warriors will play defending Div. II state champion Kenston in the title game at 5 p.m. Friday.

“With [Alazaus] on the mound we feel we can beat anybody,” Mulinix said.

Ursuline (16-13) pitcher C.J. Frasco nearly matched Alazaus but for two key innings.

In the second, West Branch strung together three consecutive one-out hits to set off a four-run rally. With two outs, Frasco took a shot to his shoe off the bat of Aaron Tucker. The ball ricocheted all the way to shallow right field and scored two more runs.

“That second inning kills you a little bit but our guys battled,” Ursuline coach Paul Kempe said.

But Frasco battled through six innings and into the seventh, when a popup dropped for a leadoff double, then a hit batter and Alazaus — who else? — capped it with a two-run single up the middle against a drawn-in infield.

“Take away the second inning and C.J. did really well,” Kempe said. “He’s pitched in so many big games for us over the years. Once he settled down after that second inning he pitched really well.”

Anthony Perry led the Warriors, ranked No. 12 in the final state coaches poll, with three hits. His hustle double with one out started West Branch’s second-inning rally. Aaron Tucker added two hits, including a double, and the two RBIs in the second.

Boston Mulinix also had a double, J.T. Thomas a run-scoring single and Charlie Biskup a single.

Anthony Triveri, Frasco, Luke Kollar and Joe Balog had Ursuline’s hits, but the Irish couldn’t take advantage.

Alazaus faced two jams, in the first and sixth innings, and defense picked him up both times. In the first Ursuline had a runner at second with one out. Rowan Urbach hit a grounder to short and Boston Mulinix alertly started a 6-5-4 rundown for the second out.

“The first inning was a little rough, but I found my rhythm,” Alazaus said. “I felt like I had my breaking ball working and was able to keep them off-balance and then go back to my fastball.”

Then, in the sixth with the score still 4-0, Frasco singled and Urbach reached on an error. With no outs, Alazaus induced a 1-6-3 double play, shifting momentum back to the Warriors.

“The key to the game was the 1-6-3 double play,” Rick Mulinix said. “We practice that once a week and you work on it and work on it. I don’t think it’s happened all year. But you prepare for it for games like this and they execute it. It’s fun to see.”

Buoyed by a strong community turnout, the Warriors are excited for the challenge on Friday.

“We stress so much [that] it’s not about the other team, it’s about us,” Rick Mulinix said. “We can control ourselves and when we play our game we’re successful. When we don’t play our game we’ve lost.”

Have an interesting story? Contact the Sports Department by email at sports@tribtoday.com. Follow us on X, formerly Twitter, @TribChronSports.

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