By VINCE PELUSO
ASHTABULA TOWNSHIP —
If someone had told Edgewood coach Bill Lipps that his Warriors would win a Division II sectional title scoring only three runs in two games against Geneva and Perry, he probably wouldn’t have believed it.
But, that’s exactly what they did as Edgewood got its second-straight brilliant pitching performance as Tony Magda threw a shutout to help propel the Warriors to a 2-0 win over Perry.
“No, no,” Lipps said pondering the hypothetic. “I do think that’s probably two of the better pitching performances we’ve had since I’ve been here. Without a doubt. (Bobby) Dragon was dominant against Jefferson (last year) on this diamond, but those were two really good pitching performances.
“Fourteen innings without giving up a run, that’s pretty good.”
Edgewood (14-6) advances to play second-seeded NDCL in a district semifinal at Havens Complex on Monday. It is the first time it has won a sectional title since Steve Kray’s Warriors beat Perry 5-2 in the 2008 sectional championship.
Magda’s shutout followed Alex Vencill’s against Geneva in the Division II sectional semifinal on Monday.
After being no-hit for 6 1/3 against the Eagles, Magda tried at his own no-hit bid, not allowing a hit until a Ryan Zaletel single in the fifth inning.
The junior southpaw commanded the strike zone, walking just two and fanning nine, while allowing three hits and no runs.
“I felt like my fastball low and away was working today and then I’d come in with a nice curveball,” Magda said. “But I’ve got to give it up to these guys (my teammates). They kept hitting the ball and making ’em make pays and that’s one thing we haven’t done well lately but we did today.”
While the score didn’t reflect it, Edgewood threatened in every inning.
After leaving a runner in scoring position in the first and second inning, Connor McLaughlin got the Warriors on the board in the bottom of the third with an RBI single to right field to score Steven Perkio.
Edgewood looked to expand the lead in the fourth as it loaded the bases with two outs, but Perry pitcher Cody Ewing (3-3) worked out of the jam, something he did impressively throughout the game.
“Cody’s battled all year, he’s done that from the beginning of the season until the end,” Perry coach John Grdina said. “With guys on base he finds a way to shut the door.”
Ewing got out of the fifth without a run after allowing a runner to get to second but couldn’t escape the sixth unscathed.
Devon Maurer tapped a ground ball to short that was bobbled and beat the throw to lead the inning off. He advanced to second on a past ball then to third on a fielder’s choice to second by Perkio (2 hits).
The speedy Maurer came home on a past ball in the next at-bat, expanding the lead to 2-0.
“I thought their pitcher did a nice job throughout,” Lipps said. “But, we’ve done that all year (stranded runners). It just seems like we struggle to get the big hit at times. I think that might be youth. I think the pitcher had something to do with it. I think if you look at what we did, Connor got the big knock, knocking in Perkio. But at the end we score on a dirty groundball then two past balls. So we didn’t really knock that run in.”
Perry would threaten late, though.
Magda walked his only two batters of the game in the bottom of the sixth and Joe Meillen singled to load the bases with two outs, but Magda came back to get Zaletel swinging to get out of the inning.
“That’s been the theme all season, we’ve really lacked in the area of hitting,” Grdina said of his 10-15 squad. “Our pitching has been great, our fielding has been good. With the conditions today, we just didn’t get the job done at the plate.”
Much of that had to do with Magda, though.
Perry got runners on second and third with two outs in the top of the seventh, but Magda (4-1) came back to get Meillen to hit a lazy fly ball to center that Louie Wisnyai easily corralled to send the Warriors to the district semifinals.
“I thought Tony was just dominant, his stuff was really good,” Lipps said. “I thought he was gonna strike this kid out (for the last out). I thought his stuff was good, a lot of the time I’m over there champing at the bit, worried as heck. (But) I was never worried about him giving up a run. Last night, I wasn’t worried about Doc (Vencill) giving up a run. I thought they were in total control.
“I thought after the first inning three runs were enough to win, that’s how good Tony’s stuff was. It was really special tonight.”
For Magda, a rough start in a win over Champion in a recent start actually helped prepare him for his performance against Perry.
“I guess my attitude toward my fastball (changed),” he said. “I wasn’t really controlling my fastball, I got too high with it. I think that really helped today, I kept the ball low and outside away from the hitters.
“These guys were good hitters, I heard a lot about these guys and the only reason they weren’t crushing the ball was because I kept it low and away.”
Lipps said going into the season he didn’t know what the expectations were for his relatively young team, which had to replace seven starters.
“Last year’s team might’ve had higher expectations than this one, but I wouldn’t give up on these guys at all,” he said. “They come here every day and do exactly what they’re asked to do and prepare real hard. If they make outs it’s not because they didn’t try.
“Look at someone like Alex Newsome. He’s not an outfielder (he started in left field Tuesday). I stick him out there because he’s just a tough kid. He goes up yesterday in a situation where you pinch-hit him, he walks. Today, he hits a single. He’s just kind of the epitome of the grind-out attitude that this team has.”
Lipps said no matter what happens on Monday, that won’t spoil his attitude toward the 2013 Warriors.
“I like our team, if it ends Monday, so be it,” he said. “This is a good team. This team has done probably more than a lot of people expected, they’re enjoyable to be around every day. I’ve coached teams that aren’t enjoyable to be around, this team is very enjoyable to be around.”