NILES - Alec Rossi could have dramatically pointed a finger toward the fence and called a game-winning home run.
Instead, the John F. Kennedy graduate went with a less dramatic way to end one of the final events in his athletic career. Rossi's ground-ball single with the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the ninth inning scored Ryan Ifft with the deciding run in Trumbull County's 5-4 win over Mahoning County in the 2013 High School Valley All Star Classic baseball game Friday at Eastwood Field.
Now it's on to Boulder, Colo., for Rossi, where he'll concentrate on his studies at Colorado University.
"I'm sad it's over, but I'm ready to go on," Rossi said. "I'm going to miss football and baseball, but I'm excited to be going on."
Ifft, who played at Niles, played a big role for Trumbull. As one of nine pitchers used by the winners, Ifft threw one scoreless inning and had three hits.
His ninth-inning single scored John-Mark Weisman of Howland with the run that tied the score at 4-4. Weisman started the rally with a one-out triple.
The winning rally came off reliever Kane Durkin of Cardinal Mooney. Durkin, who took over the pitching duties in the eighth inning, retired Trumbull in order in the eighth and struck out lead-off hitter John Hilty in the ninth before getting into trouble.
"I knew he (Durkin) was coming out throwing curveballs," Ifft said. "That's his best pitch. I just sat (on the) curveball and tried to drive in back up the middle."
After Ifft's single, Durkin walked Michael Raschilla of McDonald and Dan Ferguson of Mineral Ridge to load the bases.
Trumbull showed plenty of pride after Mahoning had snapped a 3-3 tie with one run in the top of the ninth on a single by Austin Cooper that scored Parker Warren, who led off with a walk.
"I think we came in as underdogs, honestly," Ifft said. "I was surprised we kept with them because they started hitting us the last couple of innings."
This wasn't a normal baseball game. Both coaches Boardman's Bob Beam of Mahoning and JFK's Don Lee of Trumbull used plenty of pitchers (13 in all). Pinch hitters were the norm as Beam and Lee tried to give every player an opportunity to play in what might be the final game of some careers.
"Some of them are going on and some of them aren't," Lee said. "This is a nice thing to end the season with."
Lee could see Trumbull's competitive spirit take over in the bottom of the ninth. The plan was to end the game after nine innings no matter what the score which gave the winners incentive to avoid the empty feeling of finishing in a tie.
"They were worried about it ending up in a tie," Lee said. "I said, 'You don't ever worry about it ending in a tie. You score enough runs to win it.'"
Mahoning took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first when Drew Delsignore singled in Derek Turocy, who led off with a single. Trumbull scored twice in the bottom of the first on a two-run throwing error by Cooper, the starting pitcher. The errant throw to first base allowed Weisman, who singled, and Ifft, who reached on an infield hit, to score.
Mahoning added single runs in the second and fourth innings. Turocy tripled leading off the fourth and scored on a wild pitch.
Ifft was hit by a pitch leading off the third. He moved to second and third on ground outs and scored on a throwing error.
It was then up to Weisman, Ifft and Rossi to pull the win out in the end.
"We figured we might as well give it a go," Rossi said. "Some of us might not ever play again."