Perrysburg pitcher Mark Delas earned the win on the mound and had a key defensive play.
The Blade/Andy Morrison
In his three years at Perrysburg High School, junior Mark Delas has shown he can do a little bit of everything athletically, and most of it well.
The Clay baseball team witnessed the latest display of Delas’ multiple talents Thursday when the Eagles visited Perrysburg’s newly opened Jim Leyland Family Field for a nonleague contest.
Delas worked the first five innings to earn the pitching victory and singled three times in three trips to the plate. Most importantly, when Clay appeared ready to rally into the lead in the sixth inning, Delas, who had moved to third base, started a crucial double play to help thwart the Eagles’ threat.
PHOTO GALLERY: Clay vs. Perrysburg
It all added up to a 3-2 win for the Yellow Jackets (2-0), who were picked to finish second in a preseason poll of Northern Lakes League coaches. Clay, the preseason favorite to win the Three Rivers Athletic Conference, stranded 11 runners on base in the loss and dropped to 1-3.
“It was a quality win against a quality ball club,” Perrysburg coach Dave Hall said. “I think Clay’s going to be one of the better teams in the area. Obviously, we didn’t see their No. 1 or No. 2 pitchers [Jordan Grosjean and Bryce Castilleja] today, except for an inning each. But they hit the ball. This was big for us because we’re not sure what we’ve got yet.”
Delas wasn’t altogether sharp on the mound Thursday, but he did manage to escape bases-loaded jams in the third and fifth innings to finish his five scoreless innings.
It was at third base where Delas made the game’s pivotal play.
Bennett Westfall had relieved him on the mound to start the sixth inning with Perrysburg ahead 3-0. Westfall promptly yielded a double to Clay’s Matt York, walked Josh Pennington, and hit Tyler Shepherd with a pitch to load the bases. He then walked Ethan Gerrard to force in a run.
Nick Munger relieved Westfall, and he walked Ryan Fournier to force in another Clay run to trim the Jackets’ lead to 3-2, with still no one out.
But Clay’s Castilleja chopped an 0-2 grounder to third, and Delas fired home for the force to catcher Kyle Durham, who whirled and fired to first baseman A.J. Stockwell to complete the double play.
“I was not going to miss that one,” Delas said. “That would’ve been bad. I’m just glad I could help the team.”
Munger then struck out Eagles starting pitcher Lucas Robson to preserve the one-run lead, and pitched a scoreless seventh to pick up the save.
“We were hoping for a ground ball, either to the pitcher or the corners,” Hall said. “They already had their runs in, so that was really big. Mark is off to a good start, and I think he’s one of the best players in the area.
Perrysburg got its first run in the third inning when Steve Slocum led off with a triple to the gap in right-center, and scored on Austin Lee’s sacrifice fly to left.
The Yellow Jackets added two runs in the fourth after Robson retired the first two batters of the inning. Slocum drew a walk then scored on Lee’s triple to centerfield. Lee came around from third to make it 3-0 when the Eagles’ relay throw from second baseman York sailed past Castilleja at third.
Added Delas: “They’re always a good team, and we’ve got a good team. I’m glad we were able to go head-to-head and come out on top.”