Tough day for Central

STEUBENVILLE – John Patrone wasn’t sure what to expect from his Bellaire baseball team the day after the school’s prom.

As it turned out, the diamond boss had no cause for alarm.

The fourth-seeded Big Reds erupted for nine runs in the second (they sent 13 batters to the dish) and cruised to a 20-0 five-inning victory over previously unbeaten Catholic Central in the OVAC Class 3A semifinals Saturday at windy Vacarro Field.

“We had prom last night and I was hoping the boys were smart and got their rest,” Patrone stated. “In the first inning, we came in and looked like we were half asleep (Central starter Chris Murphy struck out three of four Bellaire batters in the opening frame). In the second, we got our bats out and started hitting the ball.

“I’m real proud of our guys. They did a nice job. We’ve had a real hard time with Central in the past.”

Brendon Ross got things going for Bellaire (11-4) in the second when he dropped a single into shallow right. Tyler Ramsay followed with an infield hit. They both advanced on Nathan Steele’s sacrifice bunt and scored when Wyatt Black reached on an error.

Winning pitcher Nick Patrone then doubled to right making it 4-0. Spencer Badia drew an intentional walk and Hunter Westlake was clipped by a pitch, filling the sacks. Ross rifled a single to right, plating two more runs. Ramsay then stepped in and drilled a three-run homer to deep center.

“We gave them some outs in the second and that’s what happens,” said Central coach Don Young. “You can’t do that against good teams. Murph was up a little in the strike zone and after that, they just started swinging. Things just got away from us.”

Bellaire scored two in the third (Badia and Westlake getting RBIs) and eight in the fourth. Ramsay knocked home a pair with a double and Nick Patrone with a single. The score went to 20-0 when the Big Reds added one more in the fifth.

John Patrone’s club finished with 17 hits. Ramsay had four and collected five RBI. Nick Patrone (he also had five RBI), Badia and Ross collected three hits each.

“We’ve been very streaky at the plate this season,” coach Patrone noted. “Some games we hit the ball well and others we haven’t. It’s one of those things where I hope the right team shows up.

“In the past, they (Central) have hit the ball like that on us. They definitely are a team that is capable of doing the same thing.”

Nick Patrone was razor-sharp on the hill for Bellaire. He took a no-hitter into the fifth (his bid ended when Johnny DiCarlantonio lined a single to center). The right-hander fanned eight and walked four.

“He threw strikes today,” John Patrone said of his son. “We didn’t have a lot of passed balls and I was concerned about that early on. His breaking pitches were around the plate. I was happy with his performance. As a team, we played a solid game today.”

The Crusaders did threaten in the third, loading the bases thanks to a pair of walks and hit batsman. Nick Patrone induced a ground out and recorded a strikeout to escape trouble.

As Young pointed out, Central, which entered the conference tournament at the top seed, “didn’t swing the bats real well.”

“It’s kind of hard when you are down nine,” he continued. He (Nick Patrone) threw the ball well. Bellaire has a real nice team. They came in and were very aggressive at the plate.

“We just didn’t hit the ball. In the field, we had a lot of problems with not only the wind but also the clouds. The kids said they couldn’t see the ball coming off the bat at all. But, we didn’t hit it enough to see if they would have had the same problems.”

Murphy finished with five strikeouts. He gave way to Brenton Colabella (three Ks) in the fourth.

Bellaire, which is scheduled to host Union Local Monday, will face Linsly (the Cadets nipped Fort Frye 2-1) in the 3A championship game. Central, now 14-1, is scheduled to play Martins Ferry Tuesday.