ST. CLAIRSVILLE - After coming up inches short of giving his team the lead in the third inning, Spencer Badia didn't leave anything to chance in the sixth.
Badia, Bellaire's shortstop, blasted a bases-loaded double that keyed a four-run inning and propelled the Big Reds to a 5-3 victory against St. Clairsville on Wednesday afternoon at Memorial Park.
''We really needed that,'' Bellaire coach John Patrone said.
Photo by Rick Thorp/Big Reds pitcher Nick Patrone delivers a pitch during their game against St. Clairsville. Bellaire won 5-3.
Bellaire had left eight men on base the previous five innings. So when Nick Patrone stepped to the plate with the bags juiced with one out in the sixth, the Big Reds looked poised to break through. Patrone hit the ball into the infield, but Braylon Snell was forced out at home for the second out.
It seemed to be deja vu all over again. Until Badia stepped to the plate.
The senior sent a Cody Goletz pitch deep into right field, sending home Nathan Steele, Tyler West and Patrone and giving Bellaire a 4-1 advantage and its first runs since the opening inning.
''We needed that to get us going,'' John Patrone said. ''We've been so sporadic lately. Luckily, that hit came when it did.''
Badia scored one batter later when Hunter Westlake reached on an error.
''When you put all those baserunners on it's hard to keep them not consistently scoring,'' St. Clairsville coach Tom Sliva said. ''I thought we did a good job of it a few times. But it caught up to us. They got a pretty good hit from one of their seniors.''
In the third, Badia was on third and Westlake on second with one out when St. Clairsville got out of the first of many jams. Brendon Ross hit a shot to short and Badia tried to score, but was tagged out by Luke Slavik just short of the plate.
Bellaire looked to have something else cooking in the fourth. With one out and Snell on first, Wyatt Back flew out to right. Then, Red Devils right fielder Daulton Freeman rifled the ball back to first, catching Snell off the bag to end the inning.
In the fifth, the Big Reds loaded the bases, but again failed to plate a run.
While Bellaire continuously was able to get runners on base, St. Clairsville struggled to mount any type of rally. After scoring a run in the first on a groundout by Joel Giffin, the Red Devils were stymied by the arm of Big Reds ace Nick Patrone.
Nick Patrone finished with 13 strikeouts and three walks. He allowed four hits, two of which came in the first.
''We had a hard time with him,'' Sliva said. ''I thought we put the ball in play better than we had on him in the past. We had a few base runners, but we couldn't get the base hit we needed to get ahead.''
The Red Devils tried to rally with runs in the sixth and seventh, but it wasn't enough.