ZANESVILLE – Seventh seed West Holmes forced the River View defense to make plays.
Unfortunately, the third-seeded Black Bears made critical mistakes at the wrong times in an 8-0 loss to the Knights in the Division II baseball sectional on Wednesday at Gant Stadium.
West Holmes (12-11) takes on second seed John Glenn at 6 p.m. Friday for the sectional title.
River View, which ended the season 14-11, committed six errors on the night with three straight errors in the second inning to put the Knights ahead 1-0.
West Holmes used four hits and another error during a five-run third to seemingly put the game out of reach. A.J. Race, Buddy Beckett and Wyatt Mellor all hit RBI singles and a two-out error by the River View shortstop allowed two more runs to come home for a 6-0 lead.
A two-out error in the fourth led to another Knights’ run, and Trevor Kiner hit a RBI sac fly in the fifth to cap the scoring.
River View coach Jesse Smoulder knew West Holmes’ capabilities and credited them for putting the ball in play.
“We played them earlier in the season and knew they hit the ball hard,” he said. “They put the pressure on us, and we didn’t help ourselves. They came through at critical times.”
Winning pitcher Jordan Stutzman silenced the River View bats. He threw a two-hitter with 11 strikeouts and five walks.
Ian Brinker had a two-out single in the fourth and Josh Bigrigg doubled in the sixth to account for the Black Bears’ two hits.
“He hit his spots and threw a nice game,” Smoulder said. “We had some opportunities, but we couldn’t come through.”
West Holmes coach Bill Pim noted Stutzman battled through some rough patches. His mentality kept him focused throughout the game.
“He’s been a bulldog for us in the tournament. I wasn’t going to send him back out in the seventh, but he wanted to finish it,” Pim said. “He was able to get a lot of swings and misses. He had a good mix of pitches.”
Bigrigg took the loss after failing to retire a batter in the third, while Jonathan Helmick went the rest of the way for the Black Bears. Both are among the many players returning for Smoulder.
“This was a great group to coach, and everyone is coming back,” he said.
Levi Jones had four of the Knights’ eight hits.