BELLAIRE - A huge key to being a successful baseball team is having the ability to find a way to win. Bellaire has spent the first week of the season making a living with that ability.
The Big Reds, who were charged with eight errors, managed to fend off several Union Local rallies en route to a hard-earned 7-5 victory Friday.
"Anytime we've played Union Local, you'd better come ready to play all seven innings because they're not going to quit,'' Bellaire coach John Patrone said. "We've had a few games this week where we've gotten down and had to fight back. It's a testament to these guys because they're not quitters."
PHOTO by SETH STASKEY
Union Local’s Justin Riley works to the plate during Friday’s matchup with rival Bellaire. The Big Reds won, 7-5.
The Big Reds never trailed the Jets after they struck four times in the bottom of the first. Patrone's son, Nick, delivered the big hit of the inning when he hooked a double into the left-field corner, scoring two runs.
Union Local chipped away with a run in the second, two in the fourth and then finally tied the game in the fifth.
Jets right fielder Cameron Smith reached on an error with one out in the fifth. He moved up 90 feet on an infield single by Tyler McGary. The throw to first was air mailed and Smith raced all the way to third.
He scored two pitches later when senior Willie Brokaw lifted a sacrifice fly to right field.
"I liked the way we battled back and made it a back-and-forth game,'' UL coach Richard Mercer said. "The biggest things were the execution and we walked four guys and all of them scored."
The Big Reds regained the lead with a run in the fifth by playing small ball. Speedy leadoff hitter Spencer Badia, who worked the distance on the mound for a victory, drew a walk. He was then sacrificed to second on a bunt and hard-hitting Nick McMahon doubled him home.
Union Local knotted the game at 5-5 by taking advantage of another Big Reds fielding blunder. Junior Austin Curry walked, stole second and the throw sailed into centerf ield allowing him to race to third.
"We have to cut down on our errors," Patrone said. "One error, OK two errors maybe, but usually three or more errors is tough to win with. We just found a way."
After Badia recorded back-to-back strikeouts, junior Austin McDonald laced a single to bring Curry across.
The Bellaire sixth began with a strikeout, but back-to-back walks to Patrone, who stole second and moved up to third, and pinch hitter Tyler West led to Jets pitching coach Mark Cisar making the trip to the mound to remove pitcher Justin Riley.
As Brokaw was taking his warm-up pitches, Patrone spent several minutes chatting with both of his base runners. It was time well spent, too. Just before Brokaw worked to the plate, West broke for second.
The throw to get him was late and West's slide was affective, taking out the Jets' fielder, allowing Patrone to score on the double steal.
"I told Tyler that we're going to look at that play," Patrone said. "I gave him the sign and he took off. We scored and went up. I am proud of the way we executed several times on offense."
In the other dugout, Mercer could just tip his cap.
"I can't tell you what I told Coach Patrone about that call," Mercer said with a smile "It was a good play and they executed it well. It's frustrating because we've worked on that and we didn't do the things we've practiced."
Bellaire tacked on an insurance run when Badia helped his own cause by lacing a single back through the middle.
Badia then promptly sat down the Jets in order, including two strikeouts to wrap up the complete game. Badia fanned five and walked two.
The Big Reds were led at the plate by Patrone who had two hits. Brady Hall drove in a run with a single in the first.
Brokaw, who didn't figure in the decision, had a single along with his RBI. Curry also had a RBI single.