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Rebels can’t dig out of early hole

Correspondent photo / Lowell Spencer Shianna Mathes of Crestview throws to first base on Thursday against Newton Falls.

NEW WATERFORD — The fifth-seeded Crestview Rebels have relied on pitching and defense to carry them all season. In their sectional tournament game with the eighth-seeded Newton Falls Tigers on Thursday, the hot-hitting Tigers exploded for a convincing 7-1 victory.

The Tigers improve to 18-8 on the season, and advance to face Rootstown on Tuesday in a Division III district semifinal. The Rebels fall to 13-9 on the year.

“They are a great team. They are a great hitting team,” Rebels coach Greg Eskra said. “We played them last Monday and we won 1-0. No errors on either side. I told them tonight that you have to play error free. You can’t give them four or five outs, especially a team like them that hits the ball.”

The Tigers came out on fire in the top of the first with four consecutive hits. The big blow being a three-run home run off the bat of second-baseman Emily Knight. Her towering shot over the left-field fence staked the Tigers to a 4-0 lead.

“I thought it was huge. It got us off to a nice start and gave us a bit of confidence to go through the game. The pitch was right down the middle and I knew I had runners on base so I knew I had to drive them in somehow. It hit the perfect spot on the bat so I knew it was gone,” Knight said her blast out of the park.

Correspondent photo / Lowell Spencer Crestview's Kaedyn Sutton (9) delivers a pitch as first baseman Ellie Ricketts gets ready on Thursday.

“We wanted to come out and get the momentum right from the very beginning and be aggressive defensively,” Newto Falls coach Kristina Baker said. “I thought we came out and jumped on them tonight. I was really happy with that. We not only had aggressive at-bats, but we had quality at-bats.”

It was the worst possible of starts for the Rebels.

“That first inning, they did exactly what we didn’t want them to do,” Eskra said. “To score four, and we had a chance to get out of the inning and we didn’t. They came out and punched us right in the face. A lot of the wind went out of our sails. I thought we would be able to battle back from 4-0, but it kind of progressed from there.”

That was all that Tigers starting pitcher Sophia Tvaroch needed as she picked up the win, surrendering just five hits to the Rebels. She struck out 13 Rebel batters while only walking one.

“She did a good job tonight,” Baker said. “She stayed composed, she was in control and her defense backed her up. She did what she needed to do on the mound to take care of business.”

Eskra could only agree.

“She did a great job. She kept us off-balance and she hit her spots,” Eskra said about the Tigers’ pitcher.

The Tigers added to their advantage in the second inning when Chloe Butler, Lexie Drake and Zoe McElrath collected consecutive singles. Butler scored on McElrath’s knock to left-center. McElrath led the Tigers with three hits in the game while also having two RBIs.

After the Rebels had scratched out a run in the third on a double by Mckenna Schultz and an RBI single by Kaedyn Sutton, the Tigers quickly regained momentum in the top of the fourth. They tacked on two more runs courtesy of three straight singles by McElrath, Knight, and Joey Hood.

“We got some runners in position. We got some on, but again all year we can’t seem to string two or three hits, four hits in a row. Some games we have been able to do it, but we are not consistent enough,” Eskra said.

The Rebels were led by Kaedyn Sutton with three hits and the lone Rebel RBI in the game. McKenna Schulltz reached base all four of her plate appearances with two hits and two walks.

The Rebels resume regular season play with they travel to LaBrae today in MVAC Grey Division action.

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