By Bruce Campbell Staff Writer (ENID NEWS & EAGLE)
ENID, OK - Sinclair (Ohio) coach Steve Dintaman wanted to savor an 11-1 run-rule win over Mercer (N.J.) Friday at David Allen Memorial Ballpark that assured the 53-11 Pride would be around for the final day of the NJCAA Division II World Series.
The Pride will play either Jones (Miss.) or GateWay (Ariz.) at 3:30 p.m. If they win that game, they will play for the title at 7.
"I don't know who we're going to throw tomorrow,'' he said. "We're focusing on the fact that we're playing — that was our goal to play on the last day of the season. It's here and we're still playing.''
Ryan Falls, hurt most of the season, threw a one-hitter and walked only one. He was backed-up by a 13-hit attack and an eight-run first inning. Sinclair had an 11-game winning streak broken by GateWay 6-3 on Thursday.
"We were wondering how we would respond,'' Dintaman said. "We had a long talk about having good at-bats and quality at-bats. To put an eight-spot against a great program like Mercer is huge.''
Falls, who had thrown only 19 2/3 innings coming into the game because of a torn forearm and surgery, didn't allow a hit until a two-out single by Robert Bosetti in the fourth.
"It felt really good to get back out there and do what I could do,'' Falls said. "That eight-run lead gave me a lot more confidence on the mound. I was pounding the zone, getting ahead of hitters and giving my infield a chance to get them out. I could be aggressive. I wasn't afraid of them hitting the ball to my outfielders.''
Falls was not disappointed to lose the no-hitter and shutout.
"As long as we win, it's perfectly fine with me,'' Falls said.
Dintaman had guaranteed a then injured Falls he would throw at least 20 inning this season.
"We wanted him to know that he had value and he was going to pitch in games like today,'' Dintaman said. "Sure enough, he was ready. He really pounded the zone.''
Connor Cleary had two doubles to lead the Sinclair attack. He scored the game-ending run in the fifth when he doubled and scored on a single by Tyler Cowles, who was two-for-four and scored a run.
"We knew it was time to start a new winning streak,'' Cleary said. "Everybody was locked-in and ready to go. I honestly was sticking to do what I do best — put the ball in play and let everything else take care of itself. Tyler really laced that ball.''
Daniel O'Keefe was two-for-three for the Pride, including an RBI double in the first and an two-RBI single in the fourth.
Chad Roberts had a two-RBI single in the first and scored twice. Ben Myers had an RBI single in the first and scored twice. Zeth Tanner and Nick Massey also had RBI singles in the first.