STRUTHERS - The Ursuline baseball team did not hit the ball excessively hard or with a lot of power - it just got the barrel on the ball and put it in play.
The Fighting Irish struck for seven runs and senior pitcher Dion Felger held Springfield to just one run to top the Tigers, 7-1, in a Division III district semifinal Wednesday night at Cene Park.
Ursuline's bats worked in tandem with Felger to get the win and advance to the district final against South Range today. Felger pitched a two-hitter and recorded seven strikeouts in his fourth win of the season. Offensively, the Irish put up 13 hits and drew six walks. With Ursuline's offense keeping Felger at ease on the mound, the wheels fell off for Springfield (21-6) early.
"We just didn't play well tonight, bottom line," Springfield coach Matt Weymer said. "We didn't do anything right, and when you play a team like Ursuline and you don't do anything right, you're gonna lose."
Felger was nearly perfect, and his pitching helped make Ursuline's hitting possible.
"I felt great, everything was working," Felger said. "Fastball and curve ball were my main back-to-back pitches."
Ursuline coach Sean Durkin said Felger utilized a lot of offspeed pitches early in the count for strikes and began to sneak the fastball into his repertoire later in the count to keep the Tigers off balance. Other than a single in the second and triple in the sixth, Springfield didn't have an answer for Felger.
"You can just tell Dion knows what he's doing up there," Weymer said. "He's got three or four pitches, he moves the ball in and out, throws a lot of strikes, and it puts a lot of pressure on you as a hitter to put the ball in play. Our offense has been struggling for a while, and when your offense is struggling, Dion's not the guy you want to see on the mound."
With Felger's arm behind them, the Irish hit and scored runs in bunches, and it was not just the top of the order that manufactured their seven runs. Ursuline had six different hitters with at least one RBI and every batter in the lineup came through with at least one hit.
"We hit it up and down the lineup and put the pressure on them," Durkin said. "Zach Patton in the nine-hole had a terrific day, and we had other guys hit the ball in the top of the order, so when that happens, every inning is a potential inning to score, which makes the game a lot easier."
Durkin said his team struggled offensively early in the season, but if Wednesday night's box score serves as any indication, Ursuline's bats heated up at just the right time of the year.
"We've pitched it and fielded it well all year - it was just a matter of scoring some runs," Durkin said.
Ursuline's bats first caught fire in the second inning when the team pushed across its first two runs thanks to two RBI singles from sophomore Vito Petrillo and junior Joel Hake. The Irish added another run to their lead in the third with Gianni Quattro's RBI single and two more runs in the fourth as a result of an RBI double from senior Michael Montalbano and an RBI single by senior Tannor Berry.
"We didn't leave a lot of runners stranded on base today - we came through in clutch when we needed those big runs," Berry said.
Ursuline put the final padding on its lead in the seventh inning. Felger aided his own cause and delivered an RBI base hit between first and second, and Montalbano stepped up again and ripped an RBI single down the leftfield line, his second RBI of the game.
"It helped tremendously getting that big lead and knowing that the bottom of our order and everyone else can come through in the clutch," Felger said.