VINCENT - Jeffery Harper pitched three straight shutout innings to lead No. 10-seed Vinton County to an 8-5 victory over seventh-seeded Warren in a semifinal baseball game in the Division II Sectional tournament on Monday afternoon.
Harper had three strikeouts in a complete game effort to earn the win. He allowed five earned runs on four hits in seven innings of work for the Vikings.
With the win, the Vikings advance to the sectional championship game against the No. 2-seed Unioto on Thursday at Unioto High School.
The Vikings got on the board first in the top of the first inning when Ash Abele doubled to the right-center field gap, scoring Jacob Wells for a 1-0 lead. Abele moved to third on a groundball out by Ryan Grigsby and took advantage of an error for a 2-0 advantage.
The Warriors tied the game in the bottom of the first with runners at second and third for Levi Tucker, who doubled to score Evan Gandee and Drew Huffman.
Vinton County retook the lead in the third inning with a two-run home run to left center field by Lincoln Hayes, scoring Bailey Bartoe for a 4-2 lead.
Warren though, cut the lead to one in the bottom of the inning with an RBI groundout by Noah Edgell.
But Wells hit a two-out single in the fourth and scored on Abele's double to right center. Bartoe followed with an RBI double and scored on a run-scoring single by Grigsby to blow the game open for a 7-3 lead.
In the bottom fourth, Warren closed the margin to two after Tyler Tanner and Seth Dennis both scored on a two-run single by Gandee. But that would be as close as the Warriors would get, as Vinton County added an insurance run in the fifth when Harper's fielder's choice to short, plated Hayes for the 8-5 final score.
Harper retired the Warren side in order in the bottom of the fifth. The Warriors though, rallied twice in the sixth and seventh but was outlasted by the Vikings.
Warren starter Seth Dennis, who permitted seven runs (six earned) and eight hits in 3.2 innings of work, took the loss. Dennis walked one and struck out four. Kurt Taylor came on in relief to pitch the final 3.1 innings for Warren, giving up one run on two hits.
Gandee had two hits while scoring twice and drove in a pair of runs for Warren. Edgell had one hit and two RBI and Taylor had the only other hit for the Warriors.
Abele went 2-for-4 with two runs and two RBI to lead the Vikings. Hayes also drove in a pair of runs with his two-run home run in the top of the third inning, while Bartoe, Grigsby, and Harper each had one RBI apiece.
The Vikings will now play for the championship on Thursday afternoon. First pitch is slated for 5 p.m.