WINGATE - When Bellefonte visited Doc Etters Field Wednesday afternoon for a Mountain League baseball game with Bald Eagle Area, it was for more than just a win or loss. It was also for early season bragging rights in The Valley.
When the game was over and dust finally settled, the Eagles won both the game and bragging rights as they defeated their cross-valley rivals by the final of 4-1.
"It is important to take care of business along those lines," BEA manager Jim Gardner said about defeating his team's arch-rival. "The rivalry thing is huge and for us to put up a win against Bellefonte is a big thing for us because they have a great tradition in baseball."
Bellefonte’s Ethan White attempts to tag Bald Eagle’s Logan Reese at second base Wednesday in Centre County.
Highlighting the performance by the Eagles was the strong pitching effort turned in by Dylan Womer. Going the distance to pick up the win, Womer only allowed the Raiders four hits and one unearned run, striking out 10 and walking three.
"I just tried to throw the fastball down low to set up my curveball," Womer said after emerging from the dugout resembling a giant ice pack. "I just tried to mix my pitches to keep them off-balance."
While the lanky right-hander walked three Raider batters, it was the Raiders he didn't walk that was the strength of his game as he overcame no less than four 3-0 counts to record strikeouts each time.
"I couldn't even tell you how or why it happened," Womer said. "I noticed something wrong in my windup when I would throw three straight balls so I made a couple of small adjustments and focused a little more to throw strikes."
When asked about any extra adrenaline flowing because it was Bellefonte, Womer said, "That happens any time we play them regardless of what sport it is."
Gardner was quick to point out that his righty has him sitting on pins and needles at times.
"He always does that, but we would like to see him work on top and stay on top to help himself so that he doesn't have to throw so many pitches," Gardner said. "This was his first start of the year so all things considered, he pitched real well."
Concerned coming into the season about his team's hitting, Gardner is seeing improvement in that area each time out. In Wednesday's win, the Eagles came up with nine hits from five different players.
Leading the way was Logan Reese with a perfect 3-for-3 day good for a pair of RBI, while Bryan Greene smacked a pair of doubles and Ryan Dyke went 2-for-3 with a single and double.
"As I hoped for, it (hitting) is coming along," Gardner said. "Starting out, I thought our bats would be a little behind the rest of our game because we are such a young ballclub. I thought we had an excellent approach at the plate today off what I consider a good high school pitcher (Taylor Smith). He throws hard, mixes his speeds and he consistently gets his curveball over the plate. He has been pitching varsity since ninth grade and I thought we looked good at the plate today."
Although disappointed with the loss, Bellefonte head coach Jeremy Rellinger saw a number of positives from his club.
"I thought we played well and we made their pitcher work a little bit," he said. "But when it came down to it, he (Womer) made the pitches when he had to. As hitters, we have to be happy overall with our work at the plate, but at the same time, we saw our hitters anticipating a strike a little too often and then swinging at one up in their eyes. There were a couple (of pitches) up in the strike zone that you would like to continue to take if you can. But when you are against a pitcher like him who is throwing mustard, sometime all you can do is react and that is the way it goes."
The first time through the lineup, Womer had the Raider batters eating out of his hand. But as he gave them the opportunity to see a lot of pitches, they started to make better contact at the plate.
"It is easy to get frustrated early when you are getting dominated by a pitcher like that," Rellinger said. "But after you see him once or even twice, you have to step in there and take control mentally of your own at-bat and that is exactly what we want our guys to do. I think we did a better job of that later in the game."
The Eagles scored a run in the bottom of the first on double to center by Greene followed by a one-out RBI single to left by Reese.
With Womer totally controlling the bats of the Redmen through the first three innings, BEA scored a pair of runs in the third before adding its final tally in the fourth.
In the third, Cole Long was plunked by an offering from Bellefonte pitcher Smith and went to third when Greene followed with his second double of the game, this one to left.
Long scored on a RBI groundout by Jeff Koleno and Reese picked up his second RBI of the game when he chased Greene across the plate with a RBI single to center.
The BEA lead grew to 4-0 in the fourth when Womer reached on a Bellefonte error. Running for Womer, Dustin Coakley was sacrificed to second by Gage Gardner and scored on Long's RBI double to left.
Not to be totally denied on the scoreboard, the Raiders picked up their only run of the game in the top of the seventh when Kevin Tate was safe on a BEA miscue and scored on a RBI single to center by Tanner Light.
With the win, the Eagles improve to 4-1, while the loss drops Bellefonte to 2-3. The Eagles will be right back on the diamond this afternoon with a 4:30 first pitch against Tyrone, while the Raiders will host State College Saturday morning at 11 a.m.
Mountain League Baseball
BALD EAGLE AREA 4,
BEL 000 000 1 - 1 4 2
BEA 102 100 X - 4 9 1
BEL: Taylor Smith and Kevin Tate. BEA: Dylan Womer and Bryan Greene. WP: Womer. LP: Smith. 2B - BEL (Seth Weaver). BEA (Bryan Greene 2, Don Cox, Ryan Dyke, Cole Long). SH: BEA (Gage Gardner). HBP - BEA (Long by Smith).