WINGATE — In what turned out to be an unexpected pitcher’s duel, Bald Eagle Area downed Bellefonte 5-1 in their annual backyard rivalry game on Friday at Doc Etters Field
BEA’s Jeff Bennett threw a neat two-hitter, walking two and striking out seven. At the same time Bellefonte’s Dominic Masullo held a potent BEA lineup to five hits, all singles, while walking two and striking out five.
“They have very good hitters, potent hitters,” said Raider coach Jeremy Rellinger. “But Dominic has been very composed the last two games and has had really good control, which has been our goal for him from Day 1. When he has control he can neutralize a team like that.”
The Eagles took advantage of a pair of Bellefonte errors in the second inning, as Ryan Guenot reached on a single, Brandon Gettig sacrificed him to second, and an error on the play allowed Guenot to score and Gettig to reach third. He scored when Jason Jones’ grounder to third was misplayed.
The score stayed at 2-0 until the bottom of the sixth when, after a half-hour rain delay, the Raider defense came apart, committing four errors, which combined with singles by Gettig, Jones and Bryce Greene, gave the Eagles a 5-0 cushion.
The Raiders got to Bennett for their only run in the seventh when Tyler Kreger drew a walk and Trent Fortney tripled him home.
“We played well for a while,” Rellinger said. “But we gave them a couple of runs early. After that we kept ourselves in it but we have to learn to play seven innings effectively.”
After being involved in 7-2, 20-10 and 14-13 games earlier this week, BEA coach Jim Gardner was somewhat surprised at how this game unfolded.
“This was nothing close to what I expected,” he said. “I have to tip my cap to their pitcher. He pitched a real nice game. He kept us off-balance more than anyone has in a long time.
“And (Bennett) had a real live arm for throwing on three days rest. He located the ball real well. All week long I told him to take it easy but he looked as strong today as he has all year. He had maybe his best stuff all year today.”
On the other hand, the BEA defense had an off-day, committing three errors.
“We’ve played flawless defense for the past several games,” Gardner said. “But we haven’t been on this field in forever. It was like an away field for us to play on this field as dry and hard as it is. We’re used to it being wet and soft.”
BEA will wrap up its season next week with trips to Jersey Shore Monday and DuBois Tuesday. Then it will be the District 6 Class AA playoffs.
“A couple of weeks ago we talked to the kids and told them all we can do is win out and set ourselves up for the best seed possible,” Gardner said. “They’ve done all we’ve asked of them to get in the best possible position and whatever our seed is, we’ve done the best we can. These kids live for playoff baseball.”
District pairings will be announced next week.