Frontier, West blank Saints in sectional final

Frontier’s Toby Minder steals third as Tuscarawas Catholic Central’s Tate Papuga takes the catcher’s throw during sectional final first-inning action at FHS Tuesday. Minder later came in to score what turned out to be the only run in the game. The Cougars repeated as sectional champs. Photo by Ron Johnston.

NEW MATAMORAS — Frontier High’s Brent West outdueled Tuscarawas Central Catholic’s Dean Green.

The right-handed junior pitched a five-hitter as the Cougars repeated as Ohio Division IV sectional baseball champions with a 1-0 triumph over the visiting Saints Tuesday.

“The biggest thing was the defense,” said the 6-foot-3 West. “They made a lot of extraordinary plays for me. They all really believed in me the whole time, especially Zach (Cunningham). He was talking to me the whole time. He was telling me that there was no one better out there and that I could do it — and that they were all behind me.”

West finished with five strikeouts and two walks as Frontier improved its record to 14-12 overall on the season. The Cougars advance to the district tournament where they will face Strasburg-Franklin at a place and day to be announced.

“Brent looked sharp, and the other pitcher (Green) looked sharp,” said FHS skipper Kurt Satterfield. “I tell you, we’ve come a long way. We’ve lost a lot of games by one run.”

The right-handed-throwing Green fanned seven, walked one, and allowed three singles in six innings of work.

“Actually, our bus ride took longer than the game,” said Tuscarawas Central Catholic boss Charles Smith. “Dean’s a good ballplayer and All-Ohio caliber. He’s our number one pitcher. He’s our leader.”

Central Catholic (7-15) advanced to the sectional showdown tilt with a 15-1 semi win against Malvern Monday.

“We’ve been creaming the ball lately,” Smith said. “But Mr. West shut us down today. He pitched a great game.”

Frontier scored the only run in the game in the first inning when Heath Foutty singled home Toby Minder.

Minder got things started when he beat out an infield hit with one out. After the FHS center fielder stole second, Wyatt Smitley worked Green for a two-out base on balls.

After Minder swiped second, he legged it home on Foutty’s hit.

“It’s always a good feeling to jump out ahead and set the tone for the game,” Cunningham said. “The bats did fall off after that, but we didn’t give up.”

Frontier didn’t have another baserunner after the opening frame until Cunningham singled to left with two outs in the bottom of the sixth.

Meanwhile, with two outs in the top of the second, the Saints threatened to score when Beau Beamer singled, stole second, and went to third on Braden Culler’s infield hit.

Bearing down, though, West got out of the inning unscathed when Green grounded out to first baseman Aaron Ott.

In the fifth inning, the Saints nearly worked some two-out magic when Jake Miller singled, swiped second, and advanced to third on a West wild pitch. After Beamer walked and stole second, Culler drilled a high drive to right field that looked like it might clear Frontier junior Nick Antill’s head.

But Antill raced back, reached up, and snagged it one-handed for the third out.

“Oh, my God, that was a game-saver,” Satterfield said. “He’s going to get a game ball for it.”

“Said Smith, “That kind of broke our backs there. I thought for sure that ball would get by him.

In top of the seventh, again with two outs, Miller singled and stole second. But West got Beamer to pop out to Cunningham to conclude the game.

“In that last inning, when I called the timeout, I told Brent that everyone has confidence in him and to give it all he had,” Cunningham said. “It was just a great team win. Our bats weren’t working, but we made the plays that we needed to make. And we were fortunate enough to come away with a win.”

Smith said that “it was just one of those days.”

“It was Frontier’s home field, and everything fell their way,” the Saints coach added. “I give them all the credit in the world.”