Bellmont nips Heritage, 4-3
Bellmont's Matt Stidam makes the snag and takes some dirt with him as he makes the out. (Photo by J Swygart)
—Bellmont played for their playoff lives on Friday night against the Heritage Patriots in the baseball sectional semi-final game held at the Teepee pulling out a 4-3 victory against their foes.
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Bellmont coach Ben Fawbush commented on his tough Heritage opponents, "I don't know what it is about these guys. We come out against Mississinewa and pound the ball and I didn't think this guy (Conner Sheehan) was any better than what we saw the other day and we couldn't hit consistently."
There's something about Bellmont's center-fielder Gunnar Cale and the Patriots that just brings out the magic in the senior's play.
When the Braves hosted the Pats during the regular season, Bellmont scampered away with a 3-2 win thanks to a two-RBI hit from Cale in the seventh inning to beat Heritage in walk-off style.
Friday night's game belonged to Gunnar as well.
Senior Nick Fuelling got the nod from coach Fawbush to start and he came out a little rocky in the first two innings but got a lot of defensive help. It started in the first inning when the Pats had runners on first and second with one out and their clean-up hitter Daniel Fisher stroked a blast to dead center. Back on his heels, Cale swooned left, then swooned right before finally getting a beat on the ball and jumping at the fence to steal an extra base hit from the Pats that would have scored two.
The two retreating runners were dead in the water trying to scamper back to first and second after the fantastic grab. Cale hit the cutoff who then threw to first base...but no one was there. The runners took advantage and ran to second and third on the miscue, one of three for Bellmont in the game.
Now with two outs, Heritage got a single up the middle from Dustin York that scored one runner. The next batter was Bryan Shuler who also hit one up the middle and, once again seizing the moment, Cale came up firing and landed a strike in Ben Baker's glove at the plate tagging Mitchell Castleman trying to score from second saving the run.
Cale would continue his heroics in the second inning when there were runners on first and second. After a line drive straight back to Fuelling who made a ridiculous circus grab for the out, Will Knapke stroked another single up the middle. Heritage coach Dean Lehrman would test Bellmont's outfield once again and Cale did not disappoint. The center-fielder came up throwing but this time it was a one-hopper that Baker would snag cleanly and make a diving tag on Sheehan who was trying to evade the play to score and the game remained at 1-0.
Bellmont would get their first hit and run in the second when Brian Hakes stroked a double that bounced ten feet from the fence in left. Ben Baker would eventually score Hakes on a sacrifice fly to deep right field.
The Braves would break open a three run lead with a trio of runs in the third inning. Brian Fullenkamp drew a walk (the only one of the game for Bellmont) to start the frame and one batter later, Cale stepped to the plate. The senior continued to carry Bellmont on his back when he belted a two-run homerun to dead centerfield for a 3-1 advantage.