Bellaire capitalizes on opportunities

BROOKSIDE — Tuesday’s high school baseball encounter between Bellaire and Bridgeport was all about opportunities.

With pitchers for both the Big Reds and Bulldogs enjoying fine afternoons, hits were at a premium. Therefore, both teams needed to cash in when chances presented themselves.

Bellaire answered the call, scoring two runs with two out in the fourth that propelled it to a 4-1 victory on the Niekro Diamond.

”That’s something we’ve been stressing this week,” Big Reds head coach John Patrone said. ”Moving guys up into scoring position, getting our bunts down, making contact when we have guys on … that’s something we’ve been very inconsistent with this year.

”But we’ve been better at it as of late. Hopefully, we can keep it going.”

The Big Reds only mustered five hits off Bridgeport hurlers Tino Kusic and John Michael Simmons. Three came in the fourth, though. And it was enough to allow Bellaire to strike first.

With two away, Brennon Conroy singled to right. After Gabe Rejonis was hit by a pitch, Mason Badia dropped a blooper into shallow left loading the bases.

Leadoff batter Jakob Jarvis took advantage, belting a single to right scoring Conroy and Rejonis and putting the Big Reds on top, 2-0.

Bridgeport (2-10) tried creating its own fourth-inning magic, too, with two outs.

Elliott Dean singled, but was left stranded moments later.

The Bulldogs, however, seemed poised to strike for a big inning in the fifth. With runners on first and second, T.J. Sauvageot — batting at the bottom of the order — sent a single to left scoring Simmons and trimming Bridgeport’s deficit to one. That was all the hosts got, though, as a force out and tag out at second on an attempted steal ended the inning.

Bellaire (6-10) maintained its one-run lead until the sixth. There, the Big Reds scored a run before an out was recorded, then increased their lead to three on a sac fly by Mason Ramsay.

”Every run is important,” Patrone said. ”No lead is safe.”

Bridgeport had the tying run at the plate in the seventh twice, but was unable to knock a run in.

”We’re farther ahead than we were a week or 10 days ago,” Bridgeport head coach Mike Mukliewicz said. ”We’re getting guys on base and are a hit or two away from putting some runs up.

”Our hitting still isn’t there, but Tino and John Michael threw some nice games.”

As did Bellaire starter Josh Crawford. He worked into the seventh and struck out seven.

”It was anybody’s game there in the seventh,” Patrone said. ”It could’ve went either way.”