Barnesville blanks Bellaire
BARNESVILLE — Since falling in the OVAC Class 3A championship game to Linsly last month, the Barnesville Shamrocks have been in quite the tailspin.
Saturday afternoon, however, a new season — the OHSAA tournament — got under way and Coach D.J. Butler’s team — though not perfect by any means — resembled the squad that won its first 17 games of the season.
Barnesville (19-5) struck four times in the home half of the first and never looked back en route to a 7-0 victory against Bellaire (6-15) at sun-splashed Memorial Park in the opening round of the Division III sectional tournament.
“The kids are approaching it like an entirely new season,” Butler said. “We’ve not played good baseball the last couple of days and we still have things to work on after (Saturday), but we definitely played better baseball.”
The Shamrocks, who had dropped five of six coming into the tournament, wasted little time in asserting themselves against a Big Reds’ outfit, which they had defeated twice during the regular season.
“Anytime you can come out and get four (runs) in the first, it’s great for a team’s confidence,” Butler said. “These kids have played a ton of baseball, so they know what it takes. But, seeing the results pay off when things hadn’t been going our way, is good.”
The four-run barage in the first, which came against Bellaire ace Cole Porter, was fueled by a RBI double, which landed at the base of the fence in straight-away center, by Jared Kernen.
A couple of hitters later, designated hitter Uryan Meade ripped a single that plated Jagger Jefferis and Ayden Hannahs, who had walked and singled, respectively.
“We settled down after the first, but I don’t even know how to describe that inning,” Bellaire head coach John Patrone said. “They put the ball in play, made some things happen and we hadn’t settled in yet.”
The four runs turned out to be plenty for Alex Meade, who Butler elected to go with over Jefferis, who has been the Shamrocks’ ace.
“Alex has thrown the ball really well for us most of the season,” Butler said. “He pitched well against St. Clairsville and it wasn’t reflected in the score, but he’s got really good velocity and he threw his curveball for a strike, which sets up his other pitches really well.”
Meade worked 6.2 innings before a climbing pitch count and two Bellaire runners reaching in the seventh led to Butler to go to his bullpen. Prior to that, Meade struck out 11, including two in every inning except the sixth and seventh.
Though Meade pitched well and scattered only five singles, the Big Reds made him work at times. Bellaire had at least two runners aboard in the third, fourth and fifth innings. In the fourth, the Big Reds left the based loaded.
“We had some opportunities, but we didn’t get a couple of bunts down,” Patrone said. “Overall, I thought we played pretty well. It didn’t go the way we wanted it to, but the game came down to them getting hits when they needed them and we didn’t.”
Barnesville added a pair of insurance runs in the fifth thanks to a RBI single from Ayden Hannahs and a sacrifice fly from Uryan Meade.
Jefferis, who is expected to get the ball on the hill against Fort Frye on Tuesday in the sectional co-final, produced a RBI single to cap the scoring.
Bellaire’s Chase Nolan had two singles to spark the Big Reds’ offense.