By JAMES JOHNSON

Staff Writer

BURTON - In its 21 previous games this season, Berkshire scored an area-leading 214 runs. The Badgers needed only four on Wednesday.

Behind a two-hit shutout from senior hurler Jon Tiber and a couple of timely hits by his younger brother Oliver, the Badgers disposed of Pymatuning Valley, 4-0, to capture a Division III sectional championship at Berkshire.

The win advances the Badgers (20-2) to the district semifinals at Euclid High School where they will take on the winner of Wednesday night's Kirtland-Gilmour sectional final next Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. at Serra Field.

Berkshire found itself leading the Lakers just 1-0 heading into the top of the fourth inning. PV starter Nate Hershberger (6-2), who surrendered only six hits and three earned runs in five innings against the high-scoring Badger offense, did everything in his power to keep the Berkshire bats from erupting like they had done so many times this spring.

"We were ecstatic that we didn't allow them to score in the first inning," PV coach Steve Urchek said. "Even though we missed a scoring chance in the first inning, I don't think it bothered the team as much because we didn't let them score early like they're used to doing."

But the Badgers finally managed to get to Hershberger with two runs in the top of the fourth. With Brian Hiscox on third and Ben Hess at second, Oliver Tiber smacked a two-run triple to the gap in right-center to give the Badgers a 3-0 lead.

Berkshire added its last run in the top of the fifth on Bryan Layne's RBI double to left that plated Mike Smetana. Both Badger scoring innings came with two out.

"I think the big difference between this year's team and last year's team is that this team knows how to win the close games," Berkshire coach Mark Smithberger said. "This is what I call a grind-it-out kind of game. PV's a very good team. We knew it was going to be close. We were able to grind it out."

The four runs were more than enough for Jon Tiber, who after getting out of a jam in the bottom of the first, cruised the rest of the way for the shutout. He allowed only one hit after the opening inning and just two PV runners reached third the entire game.

"We tried to stay off the outside pitch," Urchek said. "His (Tiber's) pitches kind of tailed on us. He moved in and out of the strike zone a lot. We told the kids not to swing at all the balls that were out of the zone. Our problem was that we kept swinging at the bad pitches."

PV (13-10) had its best scoring chance on Tiber in the first inning when Laker lead-off man Jimmy Goshorn walked and moved to third on Hershberger's one-out double.

But Tiber induced PV cleanup hitter Luke Boggs into popping out to short and Brian Easton into grounding out harmlessly to Hiscox at first to end the threat.

PV had one last scoring chance in the bottom of the seventh with runners at the corners and two out, but Tiber got Richard Blascak to fly out to center to end the game.

Berkshire scored its first run in the third when Jon Tiber helped his own cause with an RBI double.

"That's how we've played all year," Smithberger said. "We've had no problems coming up with the big hits. We didn't score as many runs as we would've liked. Their pitcher really kept us off balance. It's good to get this kind of win. In the tournament it's all about survival."

Trending Video

Recommended for you