Delone Catholic relief pitcher Joe Ames knew he just had to keep throwing strikes and eventually the Squires would put some runs on the board Monday against crosstown rival Hanover.
Ames silenced Nighthawk batters for five innings and then the Squires' Sam Stephan came through with a huge RBI single in the top of the seventh to give the Squires the lead.
Then Ames shut the door on Hanover in the bottom half of the inning to give Delone the 4-3 victory.
"Joe had a gutsy performance," Delone Catholic coach Alan Felix said. "He gave them nothing. Even when he ran into trouble, he never backed down. That is good composure and poise."
For Ames, it was all about getting his curveball over for strikes.
"I really struggled with control of my fastball," Ames said. "I felt like my curve was definitely my pitch today."
In Ames five innings of work, he struck out four batters, walked none and did not give up a hit.
"I knew my fielders were going to field well," Ames said. "I always have trust in them. I knew that all I needed to do was throw strikes and that we would eventually come up with a big hit and score."
Delone got the scoring started in the top of the first after a Brett hit-by-pitch and Stephan walk gave the Squires runners on first and second. With one out, Dalton Haymaker drove a first-pitch fastball deep down the right-field line for a two-run triple. Haymaker extended the Delone lead to 3-0 when he scored on a sacrifice bunt by Devon Craig.
The Nighthawks responded, wasting no time in jumping on Haymaker, Delone's starting pitcher.
Leadoff hitter Brady Goodfellow reached base on a Delone error and advanced to second after the ball went out of play. Goodfellow later scored on a Brandon Etzler single.
Down 3-1, Zac Sheaffer crushed an 0-2 pitch deep into the right-center field gap for an RBI triple. Sheaffer later scored on a Spencer Durika single.
The Squires appeared to be primed to score again in the bottom of the second, as they had the bases loaded and one out. Hanover starter Nick Trish was relieved by Jared Peterman.
Delone's Devon Craig attempted to lay down a squeeze bunt on a 1-2 pitch but missed the ball for strike three, and then Smith, who was racing down from third, was tagged out by Durika to end the inning.
Ames then replaced Haymaker and shut down the Nighthawks the rest of the way.
In the top of the seventh, Smith led off the inning by reaching base on an error. On the first pitch of Stephan's at-bat, Smith took off toward second base and Stephan drove a fastball into right center. Smith rounded third and Hanover's Nick Trish fired a laser toward home, but Smith slid under the tag to give the Squires a 4-3 lead.
"With Brett leading off, he has great speed," Stephan said. "I just wanted to put the ball in play. Especially with his great speed, Brett is going to get that extra base every time for me. (Peterman) gave me a real nice pitch to hit, and I hit it."
Ames fell into some trouble in the bottom of the seventh after hitting two batters, putting runners on first and second with two outs. Ames then got Zac Sheaffer to ground out to second to end the threat and give the Squires the win.
"I definitely felt like my curve was the pitch I depended on today," Ames said. "I couldn't throw my fastball from strikes. I just kept hitting batters with it. It feels really great to beat Hanover. Especially since I know most of those guys."
DELONE CATHOLIC 4, HANOVER 3
Delone Catholic 300 000 1 -- 4 4 2
Hanover 300 000 0 -- 3 3 1
DC, Dalton Haymaker, Joseph Ames (3) and Austin Roth; Han, Trish, Peterman (3) and Durika. SO-BB -- Haymaker 3-1, Ames 4-0; Trish 2-3, Peterman 3-1. W -- Ames. L -- Peterman. 3B -- DC, Haymaker; Han, Shaeffer.