JEFFERSON — Jefferson and Stoughton have been the top-two offenses in the Southeast Section all year, but it was the men on the mound who made the difference Sunday afternoon.
Ben Riffle outdueled Ike Roth on the hill as the Merchants topped the Blue Devils, 2-0, in a Southeast Section semi-final Sunday League playoff game at Fischer Field in Jefferson.
Riffle pitched all nine innings for Stoughton, allowing seven hits and three walks. He also struck out three batters in his shutout performance.
Roth picked up the loss on the mound for Jefferson, tossing six innings of work, giving up four hits and two runs.
After four scoreless innings, Stoughton’s breakthrough came in the fifth after a two-run home run from Winder Fuentes.
Jefferson, who led the Southeast Section in team batting average at .340, collected seven hits on the day, but were unable to string enough together to produce any runs.
The Blue Devils may have had their best chances to score early on.
Jefferson loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom of the first and Pat Cottrell hit a grounder to first base.
The ground ball took an odd hop as the Stoughton first baseman bobbled the ball, but gathered eventually and beat Cottrell to first base in a foot race to end the inning.
Brian Klug got himself into scoring position in the bottom of the second after drawing a walk and stealing, but leadoff-man Ryan Brost struck out with two outs to end the inning.
Cory Roth was the only Jefferson player to collect multiple-hits in the defeat, going 2 for 4.
Cottrell pitched effectively in the final three innings of the game for the Blue Devils, giving just one hit and striking out two batters.
The Merchants’ top of the order did the heavy lifting Sunday, as the three-top batters accounted for all five of Stoughton’s hits.
With the loss, the Blue Devils end their season with a 13-4 mark.
Stoughton will take on Evansville in a Southeast Section final on Sunday.
STOUGHTON 2, JEFFERSON 0
Merchants 000 020 000 — 2 5 0
Blue Devils 000 000 000 — 0 7 1
Pitching (ip-h-r-bb-so) — S: Riffle (W-9-7-0-3-3); J: Roth (L-6-4-2-4-4), Cottrell (3-1-0-0-2)
Leading hitters — S: Fuentes HR, Hernandez 2x4; J: Cory Roth 2x4