JERSEY SHORE - It was a non-conference baseball meeting between Bellefonte and Jersey Shore Friday afternoon at the JSHS Athletic Field.
However, even though it wasn't a league outing, the game had a lot of meaning to the Bulldogs.
One year ago, the Red Raiders walloped the Bulldogs, 15-0, and having to wait 365 days for a chance at redemption, the Shoremen were obviously ready to repay the favor.
Jersey Shore’s Colton Potter fields a groundball against Bellefonte yesterday at Jersey Shore. JS won 13-1.
On the heels of a big, 10-4 win over Milton 24 hours earlier that allowed the Bulldogs to clinch the HAC-I divisional title, the canine crew kept all phases of their game in high gear as they defeated the Raiders by the final of 13-1 abbreviated by the 10-run rule in the fifth inning.
"After clinching the league title, you are always set up for an emotional letdown," Shore head coach Matt O'Brien said. "But the kids were hungry for today's game, and although we didn't have a lot of our guys who played in that game (15-0 loss), they were there and watched it happen. I don't know if they remember the 15-0 loss or the two-hour practice we had following the game on Bellefonte's field."
Other than the win, continuing to improve is what O'Brien and his assistants were looking for.
"The guys came out and didn't show any signs of a letdown," O'Brien said. "They came out motivated to play hard and it is about getting better. It is about putting solid at-bats together and getting ready for districts."
For the Red Raiders, the loss completed a 5-14 campaign, the final game for seniors Tyler Sunday, Kevin Tate and Skylor Wian.
"They (Shore) played today the way they have been playing," Bellefonte head coach Jeremy Rellinger said. "They have been hitting the ball well and scoring a lot of runs and it is just a matter of trying to keep up with that. Obviously that (keeping up) wasn't the case for us today."
Bellefonte scored its only run of the game in the first inning on three straight hits by Andrew Stover, Dan Roan and Doylan Deitrich followed by a RBI ground out off the bat of Sunday.
While the Shore pitching duo of starter Caleb Barnhart and reliever Travis Eiswerth were taking care of the Red Raider bats, the Bulldogs - only showing three hits through the first two innings - took advantage of a lot of Bellefonte mistakes to take a commanding, 9-1 lead after the two frames.
"Although we didn't have a lot of hits, we put the ball in play and that kept the pressure on their defense," O'Brien said. "We didn't strike out much, and most importantly, their first pitcher had a little trouble finding the (strike) zone. We were able to stay disciplined at the plate rather than getting over aggressive and that was a big part of our early success."
Rellinger felt that many of the mistakes his club made were largely due to trying to get the younger players some valuable playing time.
"Trying to get more experience out of our so-called younger kids hurt us today," he said. "They play plenty of baseball, but they need that higher-level experience, especially the pitching staff. It is going to be a work in progress, but we are continuing to work on it. They have a lot of work ahead of them this summer and if they work hard, hopefully we'll be able to come back next year with a little better arrangement."
Still leading 9-1 with just four hits through three innings, the Bulldogs became aggressive at the plate as they rapped out seven hits to score the final four runs of the game in the fourth inning.
"I hope that was our real-hitting team," said O'Brien about the offensive explosion. "We have a lot of potential and hitting is contagious, and once someone gets it started, the other guys behind him follow. It really comes down to who is going to get that first key hit and once it started, it was excited to finish strong."
Coming through with the big hit for Shore in the first inning was Ryan Huling with a two-run single to right, while in the second inning, the Bulldogs scored five runs on just one hit as they took advantage of three walks, a Red Raider error and a hit batsman for the five-spot.
Putting the lid on the win in the fourth, Shore came through with seven hits, the key blows were a RBI single by Eric Huling, a run-scoring double by Colton Potter and a two-run single by Kaiden Brungard.
Potter and Ryan Huling paced the Shore offensive attack with two hits apiece.
Although Rellinger has seen some growth in his players, he was quick to point out that there is a lot of improvement yet to be made.
"There is still a lot of room to grow," he said. "It is a matter of them wanting to put forth that type of effort to keep that higher edge mentally. If you look at a team like Jersey Shore, they are in it, and if they aren't in it to win it, I don't know what they are doing there. Today, they showed they are ready to go the entire time. Winning will do that for you and once we get there, I am feeling good about these kids who are coming back and we'll just have to wait and see what happens."
JERSEY SHORE 13,
BELLEFONTE 1, 5 innings
B100 00 - 1 4 2
J450 4x - 13 11 1
BEL: Mike Mann, Doylan Deitrich (2) and Ryan McCloskey. JS: Caleb Barnhart, Travis Eiswerth (3) and Eric Huling. WP: Eiswerth. LP: Mann. 2B: Colton Potter (JS), Galen Greider (JS).