Rebels hold on against Eagles

COLUMBIANA — Crestview’s Jeff Feo was unsure if he had a chance to make a play when United’s Brady Leyman hit a fly ball to deep left field with a man on second and two outs with the Rebels clinging to a one-run lead in the top of the seventh inning.

“I saw it hit deep and I just ran back for it,” Feo said. “What happened happened and it worked out pretty good I’d say.”

Thanks to Feo’s diving catch in left field, Crestview grinded out a 4-3 win over United in a Division III sectional semifinal Wednesday.

“When that ball went off the bat I thought I had no chance of getting to it,” Feo said. “I barely got to it and I was ecstatic. I had no words.”

It was a catch that even surprised Crestview coach Kory Whitacre.

“I didn’t think he had a prayer to catch that ball,” Whitacre said. “The way it hit of the bat I thought it was going to hit off the fence or going out the way the wind was today but all of sudden you see him diving and the ball was in his mitt.”

Crestview (9-9) will travel to second-seeded Rootstown at 5 p.m. today for a sectional final. United bows out of postseason play with an 11-9 mark.

Feo’s heroics also included hitting a single to drive in Dylan Huff with the what turned out to be the game-winning run in the bottom of the fourth inning.

“This was a total team effort all the way around today,” Feo said. “We stick together and just play ball.”

Feo finished with three singles, two runs and the go-ahead RBI.

“This was a gut-wrencher all game,” Whitacre said. “It was one of those playoff games where you were waiting to see what happened next.”

United jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning after Shane Black scored on a throwing error to first base and Jared Delvichio’s ground out drove in Parker Hydrick.

“For whatever reason when we are home we have a little bit of trouble in the first inning,” Whitacre said. “We kept it at two early and allowed us to stay in the ball game.”

United starting pitcher Kyle Bailey got into trouble in the bottom of the first when he loaded the bases and hit Tanner Daub letting Feo score. Devin Turvey plated another run after Bailey walked Keith Berger making the score 2-2.

“After the first we usually settle down and play really good ball,” Whitacre said.

Crestview gained its first lead after Caleb Hill’s single drove in Feo in the bottom of the second inning.

United tied the game once again after Ethan Antram scored after another Rebel throwing error.

“It’s always a good game when we play Crestview,” United coach Bob Manfull said. “They deserved it today. They played a heck of a game. Kid made a heck of a catch in left field.

“I thought it was a tie ball game once that ball went of the bat but Feo’s fast and he made the grab.”

Feo’s one-run single in the fourth inning drove in Huff to give the Rebel’s a 4-3 lead which stood until the final out.

“It was back and fourth all game,” Whitacre said.

Game notes

¯ Crestview enters tournament play for the second year in a row as the seventh seed. A year ago the Rebels won the Struthers Division III district with a 10-3 decision over Cardinal Mooney. They fell to Doylestown Chippewa 1-0 in the regional semifinals.

“We talked about trying to peak at the right time,” Whitacre said. “We had injuries in the middle of the season but now we have been playing some solid ball. Once you get to the tournament everyone is 0-0 and, if you can get hot, good things can happen.”

“You can be told what (seed) we are, but we don’t have to listen,” Feo said. “Just play ball.”

¯ Crestview enters its first season outside of the disbanded Inter-Tri County League. The Rebels have mixed feelings about the new challenges.

“I do miss playing the familiar faces, but it feels great going out and playing against a team you know nothing about and perform,” Feo said.

“I miss the rivalries,” Whitacre said. “It’s a little more travel, but I think once we get more into it, we will get some rivals. The kids will get to know each other through other sports.

“I think everybody in the community misses it because it adds a little more of an edge to the game like today when you know who you’re playing, but big picture I think we’ll get some rivalries going with the new teams we play.”

¯ United will play one more regular season game, hosting East Palestine on Friday.

U: 2-0-1-0-0-0-0–3-6-1

C: 2-1-0-1-0-0-x–4-8-3

C–Tyler Hurd, wp (7IP, 3R, 6K, 1BB) and Keith Berger.

U–Kyle Bailey, lp (1 1/3IP, 3R, 1K, 4BB), Shane Black (4 2/3IP, 1R, 3K, 1BB) and Parker Hydrick.