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McAninch’s homer sparks Bellaire past St. Clairsville

Photo/KRISTIN MAZGAJ BELLAIRE runner Taylor Menendez beats out a play at first base as St. Clairsville’s Emily Dubinski receives the ball.during Wednesday’s game at Bellaire Middle School.

ST. JOE – Jayden Lowe was superb in the circle while Lizzie McAninch delivered the game-deciding blow as Bellaire slipped past St. Clairsville, 6-5, Wednesday afternoon.

Lowe struck out 13 and scattered four hits in her impressive route-going effort. The senior standout allowed just one earned run.

After St. Clairsville tallied two unearned runs in the top of the sixth to knot the affair at 5-aside, McAninch wasted no time snapping the deadlock in the home-half of the sixth, as she led off the frame by unloading a bomb over the left centerfield fence for the what proved to be the game-winner.

Bellaire improved to 7-4 for coach Daven Menendez. The shorthanded Red Devils dropped to 4-5 on the campaign. The visitors played minus the services of head coach John Jaskowiak and two starters, all sidelined due to Coronavirus protocols.

“Jayden pitched super. She has been our ace all season,” Menendez said. “Jayden is a great competitor and one of our leaders. She was exceptional today.

“I am very proud of Lizzie as well. That was her second home run on the year,” he added. “Lizzie showed a lot of heart and character. She left the game early when she wasn’t feeling well and then came back to hit the game-winner. She is a character young lady.”

St. Clairsville drew first blood via a home run over the centerfield fence by catcher Rachel Finnacle. The Red Devils stretched their lead to 3-0 in the fourth, nary a hit; rather making the most of a walk and a pair of Bellaire errors.

The Big Reds’ bats came alive in the bottom of the fourth, yielding five runs.

Freshman Lexi Morgan opened with a single. After a strikeout, Allie Ault drilled a run-scoring double. The freshman dandy then scored on an error.

After a base on balls, Lowe singled to load the bases. Sophia Porter plated a run on a fielder’s choice. Senior Kaylan Brown climaxed the uprising with a single, chasing home two teammates.

St. Clairsville tied the contest in the sixth.

With one out, Dekotah Namack singled and advanced on a wild pitch. Shortstop Abby Salisbury followed with a single and quickly stole second. A routine ground ball was botched, allowing both Namack and Salisbury to score, making it a 5-5 affair, setting the table for McAninch’s heroics.

“We are a very young team. We start five freshmen at times,” Menendez said. “Our kids battled today. They have done that all year season long.

“I know St. Clairsville was missing some players today but they played hard. I give them credit,” he continued. “I am happy with how the season has gone so far. Our kids are playing hard and improving.”

Kailie Thomas was the hard-lock loser. The Red Devils’ southpaw struck out six and walked two.

Lowe and Morgan paced the Bellaire attack with two hits each. Namack produced two hits for the Red Devils.

“You can’t strike out 13 times and expect to win,” acting head coach Stephanie Salisbury said. “But I am not displeased with our effort at all. We played hard and fought back to tie it up.”

The two teams will renew acquaintances Friday at St. Clairsville.

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