Elk County Catholic used two big innings and dominant pitching for an 11-1, 5-inning win over Ridgway Friday afternoon at Sandy Beach Recrational Park.
Ben Daghir threw four innings and gave up three hits, walking none and striking out seven. He was 1-for-2 with two runs scored and one RBI in addition to a walk.
"He put the ball where he had to," said Elk County Catholic coach Father Eric Vogt. "He mixed the slider and the curveball up well. He just went at it, it's a good win. It's a long season and we've got a lot of games to make up with this weather. Pitching is going to be key. Whoever has the best pitching is going to have the best record."
After taking a 1-0 lead in the first inning, the Crusaders began to pull away in the third with four more runs. Sam Schneider opened the inning with a bloop single to right field; Ricky Pearsall followed with a single of his own up the middle. Eric Wehler was hit by a pitch and did not return: Josh Feldbauer took his place. Luke Daghir hit a sacrifice fly to plate Schneider and put the lead to 2-0. Ben Daghir singled home Pearsall for ECC's third run. Jack Herzing hit a sacrifice bunt to leave runners on second and third. Joe McLaughlin hit a groundball, which was misplayed by the Ridgway infield and allowed Feldbauer to score and up the lead to 4-0. With Kyle Schneider at the plate, the Elkers threw a wild pitch, which brought Ben Daghir home to make the score 5-0.
"There's a reason why Elk County Catholic is the favorite in District 9 and we saw it," Ridgway coach Mark Morelli said. "We got areas that we got to work on and get better on. We played five games so far, we're 2-3. We got 15 games to go, it's a long season and a lot of different things can happen. Elk Catholic started out slow last year and they came on towards the end of the year. We still got plenty of time to right the ship and get things pointed in the right direction."
In the top of the fourth, ECC put their stamp on the game with a 6-run inning. After a strikeout, Sam Schneider had his second single in a row and Pearsall walked. Feldbauer crafted a bunt single down the third base line to load the base and Luke Daghir delivered with a single to score Sam Schneider and Pearsall and up the lead to 7-0. Ben Daghir walked and Herzing followed with a single to score both Feldbauer and Luke Daghir. A pickoff throw from Ridgway went into foul ground, allowing Ben Daghir to score from second base. Herzing moved to third on the error and scored on a walk as the Crusaders led 11-0 after the top of the fourth. Ridgway's lone run came in the home half of the fourth as Kevin Kilhoffer roped a double; he would later score on an error in the infield by ECC.
The Crusaders opened the game with a run. After an opening Pearsall double, Wehler grounded out to the pitcher, moving Pearsall to third. Luke Daghir hit a sacrifice fly to score Pearsall. Luke Daghir was 1-for-1 with two sacrifice flies and four RBIs. ECC notched nine hits, coming from seven different players. Pearsall led the Crusaders with three runs scored. Sam Schneider and Feldbauer each had two.
"It was another nice day with the hitting," Vogt said. "Everybody contributed."
Jaques, Kilhoffer and Skraba each had hits for Ridgway. Kilhoffer and Jaques both had doubles.
Morelli said the Elkers need to take better advantage of good run-scoring opportunities.
"It was ace against ace, Ben Daghir versus Josh Mitchell, two of the better pitchers in the league," Morelli said. "Elk County Catholic jumped on us and kept it going from there. We just couldn't seem to get our hitting going. I've been saying it since the season started, our hitting's been very sporadic. In the first two innings, we had runners on second and couldn't get them in. We got to get better at situations when we're batting. We got to get better at capitalizing on those situations, but the flip side is you give Ben Daghir credit. The kid's a good pitcher. If you're going to beat him, you're going to have to earn it. Elk Catholic's a good ballclub, you can't take it away from them."
Father Vogt was pleased with the improved defense after a 7-error game against Brockway. The Crusaders had one error in Friday's game.
"We had a couple today, but those didn't hurt us. You can't give them six outs an inning," Vogt said. "You got to keep plugging away and keep going. We'll be back at it Monday against Curwensville. They're always well-coached."
Ridgway is scheduled to host Smethport at 4 p.m. Monday. ECC is scheduled to host Curwensville Monday for a 4:15 p.m. matchup.
Ricky Pearsall 2-3-2, Eric Wehler 1-0-0, Luke Daghir 1-1-1, Ben Daghir 2-2-1, Jack Herzing 3-1-1, Joe McLaughlin 2-0-0, Kyle Schneider 3-0-0, Pat Brennen 2-0-0, Sam Schneider 2-2-2, Josh Feldbauer 1-2-1, Zac Brody 1-0-1, Brock McCullough 1-0-0, Bryan Haberberger 1-0-0, Joe Childs 0-0-0. Totals 22-11-9.
Josh Mitchell 2-0-0, Jesse Reynolds 2-0-0, Ben Jaques 2-0-1, Kevin Kilhoffer 2-1-1, D.J. Skraba 2-0-1, Alex Dickant 1-0-0, Jesse Gardner 1-0-0, Lou Stilwell 2-0-0, Aaron Sorge 2-0-0, Derek Mattiuz 1-0-0. Totals 17-1-3.
Score by innings R
ECCHS 104 60 11
Ridgway 000 10 1