Bellefonte baseball blasts Blackhawk, 4-1
By BILL ALBRIGHT
Express Sports Writer
WINGATE — One year ago, the Bellefonte Red Raider baseball team won a District VI championship and followed that with a win over East Pennsboro in the opening round of the state championships before falling to Meadville in a narrow 4-3 loss.
With the district title already under their belts, the Raiders kept their hopes alive of improving on that finish Monday afternoon with a 4-1 win over Blackhawk in the opening round of the 2019 PIAA Class AAAA playoffs at Doc Etters Field.
With the win, Bellefonte will now play East Pennsboro, a 3-2 winner over Northwestern Lehigh.
“It is part of our long-range goal to keep moving forward, but at the same time you can’t look past the game that is in front of you,” said Bellefonte head coach Jon Clark. “I don’t know if maybe we did that last year because we matched up well with them and it didn’t work out for us. This year we said that if we get to that point again, we want to atone for that loss and if we do things right, they will fall in place. But again, it comes down to taking care of business with the game at hand because I learned a long time ago from coach (Denny) Leathers that you have to take care of the game at hand because you never know what is going to happen in the next game. Ash (pitcher Wetzler) threw a heckuva game, we manufactured some runs and our defense came through in a lot of clutch situations.”
The Raiders put all of their eggs in one basket for the win as they hung a crooked “4” on the Cougars in the second inning.
In that inning, the Raiders “juiced” the sacks with walks issued to Bobby Marsh and C. J. Lauck before Colton Burd took one for the team when he was plunked by a Marco Borello pitch.
Marsh was chased across the dish on an RBI fielder’s choice by Nick Catalano and Dylan Young, making the most of returning to the Raider lineup, went shopping at the gap in left-center for a two-run double, scoring Burd and Catalano.
Young scored the fourth and final Raider run when Nick Capparelle singled to left.
“I kind of got back in (the lineup) due to an injury, but I knew once I got back in there I had to make the best of the opportunity I had,” said Young. “We had runners in scoring position and I just tried to drive the ball up the middle because I knew I had to move them around. We are all confident in everything we do and I thought I was going to get a fastball on the next pitch. I got one and I was able to drive it.”
A final look at the score sheet showed that of Bellefonte’s four runs, three were scored by the bottom of the lineup.
“It is nice when you can depend on the bottom of your lineup to get the job done,” said Clark. “We had faith in those guys all year. Somebody has to be at the top of the lineup and someone has to be at the bottom and just because they are there doesn’t mean they aren’t capable of doing what they did today.”
Although Bellefonte hung tough with solid defense and more outstanding pitching from senior righthander Ashton Wetzler, the Raiders squandered several opportunities to add on.
“It probably would have been a little more offensive if I don’t get another guy thrown out at home plate. I have done a bad job of that this year,” said Clark with a smile on his face. “But in the end, the kids responded well to the situations and they played hard.”
On the heels of a solid effort in a 1-0 win over Somerset for the district title, Wetzler was again on top of his game to take the fire out of the Cougars.
For his complete game effort, Wetzler scattered five hits and allowed one unearned run, striking out 12 Cougar hitters while not issuing a single base on balls.
Before Zach Zuchelli singled in the sixth, Wetzler had retired 11 Cougar hitters in a row.
“You have to keep winning to keep moving on and we want to play another game,” said Wetzler. “When the season ends, I want it to end on a win so I knew we just had to keep going out there with everything we have. We watched them in their last game and when they squared around to bunt, I knew it was going to be a fake bunt so I just threw it right down the middle for an easy strike. They are a good ball club, they talked quite a bit and we knew they capitalized on errors so we had to do a good job of not making errors and we did a good job of that.”
Blackhawk 000 001 0 — 1 5 0
Bellefonte 040 000 X — 4 7 1
Marco Borello, Adam Scurci (4) and Josh Nixon. Ashton Wetzler and Colton Burd. WP: Wetzler. LP: Borello. 2B: Bellefonte 2 (Bobby Marsh 1, Dylan Young 1). SH: Seth Shuey (B) 1. HBP: Bellefonte 1 (Colton Burd by Borello).