WHEELING - It wasn't exactly the opening day Bellaire head coach John Patrone had envisioned, but considering the circumstances, he'll take it.
His defending OVAC Class 3A champion Big Reds split a pair of verdicts against defending Class 2A champion Linsly in what some believe could be a possible conference title game this season as the Cadets have bumped up a class.
In the opener, Linsly posted a 4-1 victory, but the Big Reds came back to post a 10-6 win in the second game at sun-drenched, but chilly Holloway Field.
BELLAIRE’S?Tyler Ramsay is tagged out at the plate by Linsly’s Dillon Curtin during the second inning of Saturday’s game in Wheeling. The Cadets prevailed in this game, 4-1. Bellaire won the second game of the twinbill, 10-6.
IN THE OPENER, Bellaire (1-1), which was outside to play for just the fourth time since practice began in late February, struck first against Linsly's lanky lefty Mo Mo Felt in the first inning.
Felt's mound opponent Nick Patrone got the Bellaire offense going with a lined shot back through the middle. Sophomore Hunter Westlake followed with a base hit.
Slugging senior Dalton Conroy looped what appeared to be headed for a single into shallow right, but it turned out to be a fielder's choice as Westlake was thrown out at second.
Patrone scored one hitter later when Brendon Ross hit a sharp grounder that ate up a Linsly infielder.
The Big Reds' lead didn't last long.
In the bottom of the first, Arien Seymour led off with a single. Two wild pitches later, he was on third base. After Colton Coss drew a walk, Felt helped his own cause by driving in Seymour when he grounded out to third.
Bellaire squandered an opportunity in the top of the second. Tyler Ramsay led off the frame with a strikeout, but reached on a wild pitch. He moved up 90 feet on a wild pitch and Nathan Steele drew a walk, putting two on with nary an out.
However, Bellaire failed to execute and watched two players fail to lay down a successful sacrifice bunt. Both of whom eventually fanned.
"We have to be able to get a bunt down," the Big Reds' skipper lamented. "I believe if we get our bunts down, that would have been a two-run single. We just have to execute better, and I think we will. We only have two returning full-time starters, two part-time starters and everyone else is new, so we're going to get better."
Patrone, who hit the ball hard all afternoon, singled again back through the middle. Coach Patrone didn't hesitate in waving Ramsay to the plate, but Seymour came up throwing from center and gunned Ramsay down at the dish.
"Arien has been with us a couple of years and he's a solid defender out there," Cartwright said. "He threw a gem the other day on the mound, so he's got a good arm. We're looking for a lot from him this season."
Linsly got its bats going in the third when it struck three times. The big hit of the frame came when talented freshman Logan Goodnight ripped a book-rule double down the left-field line, which scored Colton Coss and Felt.
"Logan's a talented kid, who has played a lot against good competition from the time he's been a young kid," Cartwright said. "He's going to be a good one."
After Patrone walked back-to-back hitters to load the bases, Cadets' catcher Dillon Curtin squibbed a ground ball to second and the Big Reds' only play was to first, which allowed Goodnight to score.
That offense was plenty for Felt, who was feeling it on the bump. Bellaire got runners into scoring position in the fifth against Felt, but he retired the side via the strikeout.
For the game, Felt worked six strong innings. He allowed five singles, fanned 12 and walked three.
Goodnight came on, worked the seventh and earned the save.
"I thought we settled down in the middle portion of the game and played much better," Patrone said. "I am not taking anything away from Linsly, especially their pitcher because he threw the ball well. We chased too many pitches. Along with executing bunts, we have to be more disciplined at the plate."
Nick Patrone, who suffered the mound loss, had three singles. He worked the distance on the mound, fanning nine, but he walked four.
IN THE SECOND GAME, the Big Reds found themselves in a 6-1 hole after three, but answered with four in the fourth and tied the game in the fifth before pushing across four in the seventh for the victory.
Nathan Steele earned the pitching win in a comple-game effort. He struck out three and walked one.
Hunter Westlake, who had a single in the first game, had three singles and a double in the nightcap. Conroy had three singles. Brendan Ross had a single and two RBI. Wyatt Back also drove in two runs with a single. Steele helped his cause with two singles.
Linsly (3-1), which used five pitchers, was led by Dom Ellis who had a home run and three RBI. Coss had a single and a double.
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