Senior Matt Stidam capped a three-run fifth-inning rally with a clutch, two-run double, and Nick Fuelling's sixth-inning hit knocked in barreling baserunner Ben Baker with the key insurance run as Bellmont cut down rival Norwell 4-3 Monday to capture the 3A BHS Sectional Baseball championship.
"Norwell's a good team and they've beaten us in the past, so, for us to beat them twice in one season, and for a sectional title, is something," stated Bellmont senior catcher Ben Baker, whose aggressive running accounted for two of the Braves' runs Monday.
The win puts the Braves as the host team in the 3A Bellmont Regional set for this coming Saturday. Bellmont will play Leo, the winner at Garrett, in the second game (1 p.m.) after Tippecanoe Valley and Yorktown clash in the 11 a.m. preliminary.
Baker put Bellmont on the board in the bottom of the fifth, scoring on a wild pitch by Norwell ace Josh Vanmeter. He scored what proved to be the winning run the next inning, blasting through a stop sign by coach Ben Fawbush to get to third, then scoring as the wild through from right field skipped underneath the fence.
"What a game! What a game!!" exclaimed second-year BHS baseball coach Ben Fawbush. "These nine seniors wanted it badly. They battled and fought to the end. We were down early, but sooner or later I knew they would come through. The kids made the plays when we needed them, and got the hits when we needed them. They came up big!"
Bellmont got a strong pitching performance from big junior Matt Chronister, who scattered eight hits and fanned four in six and one-third innings to earn the win. Phillip Bauman came on and and got the final two outs in the top of the seventh, igniting the BHS celebration.
"I felt good. I hit my spots. It was probably my best game of the season," said Chronister.