Bats silenced: Warren blanked 3-0 by Huskies in regional semi

ZANESVILLE – Rashaen Mitchell took over the diamond Thursday.

The senior southpaw tossed seven innings of one-hit, shutout baseball and was 3-4 at the plate as Harrison Central defeated Warren 3-0 in a Division II regional semifinal game at Gant Municipal Stadium.

“I think I had a better performance in the Dover game,” said Mitchell who’s thinking of attending Wheeling Jesuit. “Today, though, I threw strikes and threw pretty good.

“My command was all right, but it wasn’t as good as it usually is.”

Warren had scored a total of 27 runs in three tournament games prior to Thursday’s contest, but Mitchell was able to keep the Warriors’ sticks quiet.

“He’s a good pitcher,” said Warren head coach Mark Farr of the Harrison Central ace. “We didn’t capitalize on some opportunities. You put pressure on a good pitcher, sometimes they’ll fold. The kid threw strikes.”

Mitchell (9-1) was effectively wild, striking out 10, walking four and hitting one batter. He threw 117 pitches in the complete game effort, 67 for strikes.

“Heck, he gave up one hit and had three hits,” said Harrison Central head coach Justin Clifford. “It was just a great performance by him. He’s done that all year.

“He lives on the edge but man, does he battle when he needs to.”

Warren righty Danny Pannell (8-3) suffered the mound loss, going 4.2 innings and giving up all three Huskie runs. Pannell struck out five batters and walked the same amount. Overall he threw 57 strikes and 39 balls for a total of 96 pitches.

Justin Hill, the winner in Warren’s 11-3 district final victory over Washington Court House a week ago, pitched 2.1 innings of relief, striking out two and walking one.

The Warriors threatened in each of their first three at-bats.

In the bottom of the first, Ethan Estes worked a walk with one out, but Mitchell was able to strike out Garrett Kennedy and Harrison Central catcher Nick Staten caught Estes trying to steal for an inning-ending double play.

In the bottom of the second, trailing 1-0, Warren had its biggest opportunity of the game. Gunnar Smith singled to right field to lead off the inning and went to second when David Ryan was hit by a pitch. Both runners advanced into scoring position when Blake Kidder laid down a sacrifice bunt.

Mitchell was able to get out of the jam unscathed by retiring Riley Bobo and Hill to end the frame.

Then in the third, Estes worked a two-out base-on-balls and stole second, but again was stranded as Mitchell was able to walk the tight-rope yet again.

“They had confidence,” Farr said of his hitters. “Today was one of those days where the sticks weren’t working.”

The Huskies plated a run in the second, third and fourth innings to take the 3-0 lead.

Pannell appeared to be on his way to a second straight scoreless inning in the second when Harrison Central caught a huge break.

Down 0-2 in the count, Staten took a Pannell offering off his back to get to first base. Things escalated from there, as Rhett Kuryn drew a four-pitch walk and then Austin Kowalski came through with a base hit up the middle to bring home Staten for the game’s first run.

In the third, Mitchell led off with his second base hit of the game, a lined double just out of Estes’ reach at shortstop. Nick Pelegreen’s groundout to short sent Mitchell to third before Drew Horn cashed in with an RBI-single through the left side.

Harrison Central struck for one more in the fourth. Leadoff batter Dalton Rutter started things with a walk and went to second on Dustin Redish’s sac bunt. Mitchell then collected his third base knock of the game, a bouncing single over the head of Hill at first, to make it a three-run game.

With the way Warren’s offense had been performing coming into Thursday’s game, Clifford knew not to take the Warriors lightly.

“There’s 16 teams left,” Clifford said. “People can say ‘they should have been here, we should have been here,’ whatever. (Warren’s) here and there is a reason they’re here. They’re a good baseball team.”

The loss ended Warren’s season at 15-10, while Harrison Central, now 22-6, advanced to Friday’s regional final against either West Holmes or Waverly.

“I’m super proud of my kids,” Farr said. “If you’d have asked me a month ago if we’d be standing here talking, I’d have said no.

“Super proud. They all worked hard.”