Photo Credit: Jocyln Nicholas

Vienna, OH- The Grand Valley Mustangs kicked off their OHSAA playoff tournament run with a resounding 8-0 victory over the Mathews Mustangs in the opening round sectional semifinal game on Tuesday. Pitcher Payton Plizga was the star of the show, striking out an impressive 12 batters over five innings of work, allowing just four hits and no runs while walking none.

The Mustangs wasted no time in asserting their dominance, jumping out to an early lead in the bottom of the first inning. Kamden Cottrell’s single brought home the first run, and Eric Ellsworth followed with a double that scored two more, giving Grand Valley a 3-0 advantage.

In the bottom of the third, Plizga added to the Mustangs’ lead with a single that extended their cushion to 4-0. The offensive onslaught continued, as Grand Valley tacked on four more runs throughout the game, buoyed by a strong eye at the plate that resulted in six walks.

While the Mustangs’ bats were on fire, their baserunning was equally impressive. Plizga, Cottrell, and Aidan Baker, who collected three hits in four at-bats, including a double, each stole multiple bases. In total, Grand Valley swiped nine bases, putting immense pressure on the Mathews defense.

Ellsworth led the way with four runs batted in, going 2-for-4 on the day, while Trenton Murduck drew two walks to keep the offensive momentum going.

On the mound, Plizga was relieved by Gage Mast, who pitched two scoreless innings, allowing just one hit and striking out two. The Mathews starter, Brown, took the loss, giving up four runs (one earned) on five hits over four innings, striking out four and walking one.

For Mathews, Woodall went 2-for-3 at the plate, but the offense struggled to generate any consistent threat against the dominant Grand Valley pitching.

With the victory, the Grand Valley Mustangs advance to the sectional final game on Thursday, where they will take on the Mineral Ridge Rams on the road in the next round of the OHSAA playoff tournament.