Clippers avoid the Blue Devil trap

COLUMBIANA-Following a 10-5 loss on Monday to conference-leading Western Reserve, Columbiana did not have much time to regroup.

Looming on Tuesday was a sectional tournament game against a Lisbon team that boasted only six wins, but was coming off its best performance of the season-a 6-1 win over McDonald in the secional opener on Monday.

The Clippers were able to gather themselves enough to get by the Blue Devils, 7-2, in a Division IV sectional final Tuesday at Firestone Park.

Columbiana (19-7) advances to face Mineral Ridge in the district semifinal at 4 p.m. Monday at Lisbon’s Dickey Field.

“I noticed our team still looked a little down when the game started,” Columbiana pitcher Dakota DeAmicis, “But once the game got going it seemed like everyone picked it up a little bit. It was nice to come out and get our first tournament win out of the way.”

“Tonight was a classic trap game for our team,” Columbiana coach Jerry Beltempo said, “We were coming right off an emotional loss on Monday and had to turn around quickly to play a do-or-die game against a Lisbon team that’s under the rader. Our girls had a tough time getting in the right frame of mind, and I thought we played a little flat, but we did enough to win the game and move on.”

DeAmicis paced the Clippers from the mound, throwing a complete game and striking out five. At the plate, the senior right-hander had two singles, an RBI, and three runs scored.

“I like to move around my pitches a lot and keep batters guessing, and I was able to do a pretty good job of that tonight,” DeAmicis said.

“We would not have 19 wins without Dakota,” Beltempo said, “She gives us a chance every time she takes the mound.”

On offense, the Clippers had a difficult time adjusting to the off-speed pitches of Lisbon right-hander Calen Otto, but were able to build a 6-0 after four innings due to a collection of bunt singles and Lisbon fielding errors.

In the first, Colette Steiginga led off with a single, stole second, advanced to third on a throwing error, and scored on a fielder’s choice groundball by DeAmicis. DeAmicis reached base and advanced to second on the play when the Devils botched a play at the plate. She stole third and scored on a fielder’s choice by Khylea Fullum to give the Clippers a 2-0 lead.

Columbiana collected two more runs in the third when DeAmicis led off with a bunt single, advanced to third on a sac bunt and a fielder’s choice, and scored on a two out fielding error. Marissa St. George reached on the error and scored two batters later on an RBI single by Madison Macklin to make it 4-0.

“The third inning was big for us,” Lisbon coach Dave Crismon said, “We had a chance to get out of the inning with no damage, but we had trouble in the field and they ended up pushing across two runs.”

The Clippers played small ball again in the fourth to widen their lead.

Madison Roessler led off by reaching second on a throwing error, and moved to third when DeAmicis executed her second bunt single. Fullum then stepped up and grounded into another fielder’s choice, allowing Roessler to score and make it 5-0. After back-to-back bunt singles by Navi Kaur and St. George, DeAmicis scored on a sac fly by Holly Gotthardt. In all, the Clippers bunted for a hit five times in the game.

“Otto threw about as much off-speed stuff as we’ve seen all year, and what made her pitches tough was that they spun to the outside,” Beltempo said. “We were not able to make the right adjustments as the game went on, so I decided to bunt.”

Taylor Siefke got the Devils on the board with a solo homer in the fifth, but Lisbon squandered a chance to get closer, leaving runners at first and second. Lisbon then left the bases loaded in the sixth.

“We had some chances with runners on and the middle of the order up,” Crismon said, but we just weren’t able to come up with the big hit when we needed it most.”

The Blue Devils finish their season with a 6-20 record.

“Overall, though, I’m proud of the way we played,” Crismon said. “We knew it was going to be tough going against Columbiana, but we didn’t lay down. We played a lot of young players this year and I thought our win against McDonald showed the progress we made this year.”

Before continuing tournament play next week, the Clippers will get another crack at second-ranked Western Reserve in their final conference game at 4:30 p.m. Thursday. Columbiana needs a win to claim a share of the Inter-Tri County League lower tier title.

“It feels great to know we still have one more game against Western Reserve,” Columbiana catcher Navi Kaur said. “We know what they are capable of, and we know what we’ll have to do in order to win.”

“The players should appreciate tonight’s win, but we have a lot of work to do in order to be ready for Thursday,” Beltempo said. “The Western Reserve lineup was very disciplined on Monday and did not help us out one bit by swinging at bad pitches, it’s going to be a great challange to figure out a way to attack them. We will have to be on top of all the little things in order to win.”

L: 0-0-0-0-1-0-1-2- 4-5

C: 2-0-2-2-1-0-x-7-11-2

L-Calen Otto, lp, (7IP, 3BB, 1K) and Kyrston Rose

C- Dakota DeAmicis, wp, (7IP, 2BB, 5K) and Navi Kaur.