By: D.J. WATSON
NH Sports Writer
MARTINS FERRY – The Harrison Central baseball program entered this past Wednesday’s OVAC Tournament cutoff needing wins, and then just a little bit of help. With three clubs virtually vying for two spots, there was certainly a group that was going to end the night refocusing their season on the next set of goals. Unfortunately for the Harrison County troop, a comfortable 15-9 victory over the Martins Ferry Purple Riders wouldn’t be enough to keep them from being the odd man out.
It goes without saying, but Mother Nature paid the Huskies (7-4) no favors this past week in their pursuit of a Class 4A bid. It started with a rained out game Monday against the Purple Riders, and then snow — yes snow — prevented the completion of a previously suspended game with the Buckeye Local Panthers on Tuesday. The cancelled game Monday forced the Harrison coaching staff to plan for a double-header in the trip to Ferry. However, even a 4 o’clock first pitch couldn’t overcome the cloudy conditions that would only afford enough time for one game, an issue that would deal a crippling blow to the squad’s OVAC Championship aspirations.
In a nutshell, the Huskies needed to take care of their own business while pulling for Wheeling Central to top St. Clairsville and Coshocton to knock off Meadowbrook. Take care of business they did, but the other cards simply didn’t fall into place when the scoreboard watching was finished. The St. Clairsville game was called on account of darkness, and the Colts handled the Redskins in their co-conference ECOL matchup.
Not to be lost in the mix of the OVAC Tournament picture, the Huskies have won five of their last six and are absolutely trending in the right direction when and if the weather ever decides to break. After suffering a setback last Saturday at the hands of the visiting Maysville Panthers (4-2), the Purple Riders (5-5) were the rebound victory Harrison needed after two days of uncooperative weather. A four run third and a five run fifth provided enough cushion to fend off a late push from the Riders that produced six runs in the final three innings.
Senior Logan Elliott picked up his second victory of the year from the hill, tossing 6.2 innings before classmate J.R. Heavilin came in and closed the door for the Huskies in the bottom of the seventh.
Heavilin not only aided Elliott on the mound, he had a big night in the batter’s box as well. The Coppin State commit sprayed two doubles and a single, while producing or accounting for a third of Harrison’s offensive output. Elliott also helped his own cause, running up three singles, two RBI’s and a run scored. The two pitchers had a hand in a combined eight runs for Head Coach Mike Valesko and the Huskies. Chance Hursey, Ronnie Bowers, and Andrew Clelland were the other major contributors, each turning in a multi-hit performance. Hursey rounded the bags twice and knocked in four runs on two doubles. Bowers, who has hit the ball hard all year, found some daylight with a single and a double, and Clelland knocked in his 13th and 14th RBI’S of the season on his two singles.
This afternoon, St. Clairsville will travel to (1) Steubenville as the four seed in the OVAC Class 4A tournament. Meadowbrook and (2) Edison will make up the other half of the bracket as the two and three seeds.
As for the Huskies, a 6-4 loss to Maysville at home last weekend is the only thing separating them from a six game winning streak. There are still a number of big games left on the card, including scheduled dates with Edison, Steubenville, Garaway and Wheeling Park before the official postseason begins in early May.