Bellefonte defeats BEA in Mountain League baseball, 16-1
By BILL ALBRIGHT
Express Sports Writer
WINGATE — Regardless of the records of the teams, or where the games were played, when Bellefonte and Bald Eagle Area met on the baseball diamond, many times the games were tooth-and-nail battles right down to the final out.
Unfortunately for BEA and fortunately for Bellefonte, Thursday afternoon’s game was not one of those hotly-contested battles as the Red Raiders were all over the Eagles for a 16-1 win, the game abbreviated after five innings by the mercy rule.
“I said to the guys following the game that we have to be smart at the plate by putting pressure on them to force them to throw strikes,” said Bellefonte head coach Jon Clark. “I told them that if they step in there and start swinging at bad pitches, the walks we got are no longer walks. Other than one inning when we got a little too aggressive, I thought our guys did a good job of that today. What you have to do to win ball games is create opportunities and then capitalize on them.”
After his team’s first three games, Clark likes what he has seen from his troops.
“In our first three games, we weren’t in a groove and playing like we know how to play.” Clark said. “That is why we started the season 0-3. The team has changed its attitude and our approach to playing the game. We can only hope that we can keep it going, building on each game based on what we did before. They (BEA) are a good program and if several things go a different way, it could be a different ball game. Baseball is a game that can humble you in a hurry because things can change real quick.”
The Raiders asserted themselves early in the game as they put a crooked number “8” on the board in the second inning before adding a crooked “7” in the fourth en route to the lopsided win.
Wildness on the part of the BEA pitchers was the biggest factor in the game as the Raiders were the recipients of no less than twelve free passes in the five innings.
Seemingly at a loss for words to describe what the problem is with his hurlers, veteran BEA coach Jim Gardner was frustrated following the game.
“It is a simple fact that the walks killed us today,” said Gardner. “We have to set the tone with our starting pitching and we definitely didn’t do that today. We made Bellefonte look good and they took advantage of it. Yesterday against Philipsburg we struggled with the same type of thing and they pounded the ball and tonight, oh my, we definitely struggled. The main thing is that we have to stay positive. We can’t start doubting ourselves.”
If there was one bright spot in the game for the Eagles it was that they played error-less baseball.
“We played error-less baseball and gave up 16 runs and any way you look at that, it is tough to take,” said Gardner. “Right now we are struggling and I truly believe that we have a good bunch of athletes. Our league is the most balanced I have ever seen it. There is no such thing as an easy game. Every time we play we are leaving parts of the game wide open and until we correct that, we are going to continue to struggle. We have a good bunch of kids and hopefully we can get it right Saturday when we play Somerset.”
While the BEA pitchers had more than their share of problems locating the strike zone, Bellefonte righthander Derek Fravel didn’t seem to have the same problem as the freshman worked the first four innings, allowing just one run on five hits, walking four while striking out five.
“This is Derek’s first year with us as a freshman and he has done everything we have asked him to do,” said Clark. “He comes out and competes every day and he earned a start today. He had a little trouble in the first inning, but I think that might have been due to a few nerves in his first start.”
The Raiders rapped out ten hits in the win with C. J. Funk leading the way. Funk went 3-for-4 at the dish with a double, driving in three runs while scoring a pair himself.
“That is why he is hitting where he is at the plate and doing some things that hopefully can carry over to the next level,” said Clark. “He helps pace the team and you learn to rely on a kid like that. He has a great approach at the plate and he knows what his role is on the team. Probably his biggest asset is that he is patient and smart.”
For BEA, Jaden Jones and Matt Reese each had a pair of hits, one of Reese’s was a double.
Bellefonte 080 71 — 16 10 2
BEA 010 00 — 1 5 0
Derek Fravel, Bobby Marsh (5) and Colton Burd. Tyler Hilgar, Tommy Snyder (2) and Caleb Burns. WP: Fravel. LP: Hilgar. 2B: C.J. Funk (B) 1, Bobby Marsh (B) 1, C J. Lauck (B) 2, Colton Burd (B) 1. Matt Reese (BEA) 1. SF: Fravel (B) 1. Double Plays: BEA 2.