BERLIN CENTER-A confident Western Reserve baseball team will take the field for today's Div. IV regional semifinal against 12th-ranked St. Thomas Aquinas.
The Blue Devils (18-5) take on the Knights (18-8) at 4 p.m. at the Pipe Yard in Lorain.
St. Thomas comes into the game having outscored opponents 20-1 on their way to the Barberton district title. The Knights played a regular season schedule that boasted Div. I district winner Massillon Jackson, Div. III district winner Youngstown Ursuline (twice) as well as several Div. II schools including Cardinal Mooney.
Still, the Blue Devils are not fazed.
"They (St. Thomas) are a good solid team, but they aren't anything we haven't faced before," Western Reserve coach Ed Anthony said. "They aren't better than South Range. They've played some good teams, but we'll be ready to play."
Front and center for the Blue Devils today will be their pitching situation. The team's ace, right-hander Nick Allison (9-0) has been battling elbow soreness for the better part of two weeks. He pitched a complete game at less than 100 percent in Friday's district final win over Mathews, but experienced soreness again on Monday. His status is still up in the air.
"Nick has been to the physical therapist twice this week to try and work the soreness out, but at this point we don't know if he will pitch the semifinal or not," Anthony said. "We will have to wait and see how he feels today."
If Allison is unable to go today, Anthony and the Blue Devils have the utmost confidence in number-two starter Tristan Bova (5-1), who pitched a complete-game in last week's district semifinal.
"Tristan has been there for us all year when we've needed him," Anthony said. "I don't know a ton of Div. IV teams that have a number-two starter that they are unafraid to throw in a big game like this."
St. Thomas features five starters (Anthony Moeglin, Frank DiMarzio, Dan Piero, Sam Pusateri and Jacob Paul) who were in the regular rotation for the boys basketball team which was the Div. IV state runner-up. Pusateri-a centerfielder-leads the team with a .492 batting average, while Moeglin plays third base and has seven doubles and 25 RBIs.
"They have a lot of good athletes," Anthony said. "But we also have a lot of football players that went to the state semifinals. It'll be a good matchup."
One thing the Blue Devils aren't looking forward to is the hour-and-a-half bus trip to Lorain. The team will leave school at 1 p.m. today.
"We went over the routine very carefully today," Anthony said. "You hope that sort of thing doesn't effect your team, but both teams are in the same boat."