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It Takes A Thief

COAL GROVE — Caleb Blackburn grabbed the spotlight, but Payton Blair stole the show.

Blackburn pitched a two-hit shutout and Blair provided the game’s only run as he stole home to give the St. Joseph Flyers a 1-0 win over the Portsmouth Notre Dame Titans Thursday in the Division IV sectional championship.

“That’s the best Caleb’s thrown all year. He’s been in tough situations in the past few years, so he knew how to handle this type of game,” said Flyers’ coach Greg Bryant.

Blackburn struck out seven and walked two for the complete game win.

Blair flared an opposite field single to begin the sixth inning. Blair stole second base and Chad Harvey attempted to sacrifice and beat out the bunt for a base hit. Harvey then stole second to put runners at second and third.

Blackburn — who had ideas of putting down a squeeze bunt — was hit by a pitch to load the bases. The next batter struck out attempting to squeeze the run home, but Blair was able to steal home on the play and score the game’s only run.

“We had Payton coming on the play and he has good speed, so he was able to get in before the catch could tag him,” said Bryant.

The Flyers squandered other scoring chances.

T.J. Young doubled to lead off the fifth inning and went to third on Joseph “The Shoe’ Unger’s sacrifice bunt. But Young was thrown out attempting to score on a ground ball.

In the fourth inning, the Flyers had runners at first and second with two outs but failed to score.

Kevin Delabar pitched a four-hitter in a losing effort. Brock Hannah had both Notre Dame hits.

St. Joseph (16-2) will play Trimble at 5 p.m. on Wednesday at the University of Rio Grande in the district semifinals.

Notre Dame 000 000 0 = 0 2 1

St. Joseph 000 001 x = 1 4 2

Kevin Delabar and Staker. Caleb Blackburn and Pat Gagai. W-Blackburn (7-K, 2-BB). L-Delabar (6-K, 1-BB). 2B-St. Joseph: T.J. Young. Hitting-Notre Dame: Brock Hannah 2-4; St. Joseph: Payton Blair 1-3, Chad Harvey 1-3, Tanner Riley 1-3, T.J. Young 1-3.