The state's third-ranked Norwell Knights had a battle on their hands Thursday night for the first six innings in the class 3A baseball sectional at Bellmont as they led by just a 3-2 count over the Braves in the opening round of tourney play.
However, in the top of the seventh, the Knights, now 27-3 on the year, showed the merit of their ranking battering Bellmont pitching for six runs on five hits and two walks and advanced to the next round with a 9-2 decision over Bellmont.
Norwell threatened to break the game wide open in the top of the first when Josh VanMeter opened with a single, stole second and scored one out later on a RBI single by Tailor Szarenski. Bellmont hurler Dylan Call walked Jonah Patten and was then touched for a single by Austin Dettmer to load the bases with one out.
Call appeared to get out of trouble as he got Norwell pitcher Luke Hunter to hit a perfect potential double play ball to shortstop Brett Baker. Baker started to go toward second for the force but then decided to go for the traditional 6-4-3 double play try and fumbled the throw to Tyler Fenwick allowing Szarenski to score.
Call, a first-year player for the Braves after transferring here from Bishop Luers, settled down to strike out two straight to end the threat and Norwell didn't seriously threaten again until the fifth when Patten singled, moved to second on a wild pitch, and scored on a base hit by Austin Dettmer to make it 3-0 Norwell.
On the other side, Norwell's Luke Hunter, who no-hit Bellmont when he faced them during the regular season, used some strong defensive play behind him to counteract a couple of BHS threats.
In the first, Josh Brune made sure there wouldn't be a repeat of the no-hitter drilling a single to left but he was later thrown out trying to steal second. In the second, Patten made a sensational stop of a hard-hit shot to third by Mason Shinaberry and first baseman Szarenski came up with a nice catch of a throw throw from him for the out.