Shelby proves too much for Clear Fork in baseball sectional final

·3 min read
Shelby's Marshall Shepherd pitched seven shutout innings Friday evening in the Whippets' 10-1 win over Clear Fork in a Division II sectional final.
Shelby's Marshall Shepherd pitched seven shutout innings Friday evening in the Whippets' 10-1 win over Clear Fork in a Division II sectional final.

SHELBY — It was a postseason matchup between two of the finest baseball programs in Richland County.

But host Shelby proved to be too strong for Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference rival Clear Fork, winning 10-1 in a Division II sectional final Friday.

Shelby advanced to play No. 2 seed Sandusky Perkins, a 5-2 winner over Vermilion, in a district semifinal at 4:30 p.m. Thursday at Fremont Ross.

The third-seeded Whippets put the sixth-seeded Colts in a hole early in the first inning, with Marshall Shepherd and Alex Bruskotter each knocking in a run. The Whippets then scored on a throwing error and a bases-loaded walk to make it 4-0.

Shelby's lineup batted around in the first inning.

"Yeah, we didn't put ourselves in the best position to start the game, and against a good team like that it's going to take every out and the opportunities have to go in our favor," said Clear Fork coach Joe Staab.

"We wanted to see them compete," said Shelby coach Jon Amicone, on what he wanted to see from his team. "We knew that Clear Fork would come in here hungry. We knew we had to match their intensity because they have been playing well of late."

Clear Fork's Luke Schlosser drove in the Colts' only run in the third inning. Clear Fork made a pitching change in the same inning, bringing in Jared Scott, and his collection of off-speed pitches and fastballs got a couple batters out and briefly calmed things down for the away side.

It didn't last long.

In the fourth inning, with Clear Fork one out from getting out of the inning, Bruskotter's two-run double extended Shelby's lead to 6-1. Clear Fork didn't threaten again. Landon Kennard slammed the door shut with a two-run double in the sixth.

Shepherd, who went 3 for 3 at the plate with two RBIs, was also reliable on the mound. Shepherd threw 102 pitches in seven shoutout innings, walking one and striking out seven.

"I thought I did really good. I trusted myself in all counts and trusted my defense behind me," said Shepherd. "Yeah, the early lead was important because last time I pitched against Clear Fork, we ended up winning 1-0. So getting a four-run lead just takes a lot of pressure off me."

"I think the key for Marshall is our team giving him a lead," said Amicone. "The runs we scored early allowed him to sit back and be comfortable. He had a nice three-pitch mix tonight."

While Clear Fork (11-13) said goodbye to eight seniors, Shelby (16-6) moved on to the next round.

"We need to clean some things up, like small ball," emphasized Amicone. "We're not bunting the ball real well now, not dominating routine plays in the infield. The further we get into this tournament, the little things are gonna loom large if we don't clean those up."

jsimpson@gannett.com

Twitter: @JamesSimpsonII

This article originally appeared on Mansfield News Journal: Shelby defeats Clear Fork in district baseball tournament