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Willis, Flyers rally past Tolsia in season opener

St. Joseph Flyers’ Clay Willis (10) pitches amid snow flurries during Saturday’s season opener. Willis drove in the winning run as the Flyers beat the Tolsia Rebels, 4-3. (Kent Sanborn of Southern Ohio Sports Photos.com)

Jim Walker
jim.walker@irontontribune.com

Clay Willis made Opening Day his day.
Willis went 2-for-4 with two runs batted in — the second the game-winner in the eighth inning — and also picked up the pitching win as the St. Joseph Flyers rallied to beat the Tolsia Rebels 4-3 on Saturday in the season opener.
“Willis has hit the ball well so far. He’s been working on his hitting extremely hard this spring. He set up a run with a sacrifice and knocked in a couple of runs including the game-winner,” said Flyers’ coach Greg Bryant.
Tolsia took a 1-0 lead in the second and added a run in the fifth.
The Flyers cut the deficit to 2-1 in the bottom of the fifth when Jimmy Mahlmeister singled, Jackson Rowe reached on an error, Willis put down a sacrifice and Isaac Whaley hit a sacrifice fly.
Tolisa got a run in the top of the seventh to lead 3-1 but the Flyers rallied to tie game.
J.C. Damron doubled to open the inning and went to third on a ground out. After the second out, Willis had a clutch RBI, Whaley singled and Chase Walters delivered a game-tying single.
Willis came on to pitch in the top of the eighth and retired the side and the Flyers then scored in the bottom of the inning.
Damron walked, Mahlmeister was hit by a pitch and an out later Willis drilled the game-winning single.
“It was a total team effort from top to bottom. It was a tough day to pitch,” said Bryant. “The young kids came through today. They had some big hits and made some plays in the field. They helped us come back.”
Mahlmeister was 2-3, Damron 1-3 with a double, Walters and Whaley 1-3, and Rowe and Chase Wilds 1-4.
The Flyers hosts Portsmouth Notre Dame at 5 p.m. on Monday.
Tolsia       010    010    10    =    3    8    2
St. Joseph    000    010    21    =    4    8    5
Eric Williams, Caleb Meredith (7) and Kyler Speer. Chase Walters, Isaac Whaley (4), Clay Willis (8) and Jackson Rowe, Trae Crabtree (4). WP-Willis (IP-1, 1-K, 1-HBP). LP-Meredith (1-K, 1-BB, 1-H). Hitting-Tolsia: Eric Williams 2-3 HR, Blake Conn 2-4, Raymond Perkins 1-4, Jared Switzer 1-4, Trey Smith 1-4 2B, Eric Meredith 1-4; St. Joseph: Clay Willis 2-4, Mahlmeister 2-3, J.C. Damron 1-3 2B, Chase Walters 1-3, Isaac Whaley 1-3, Jackson Rowe 1-4, Chase Wilds 1-4.