Little League Baseball: Bellefonte wins sectional tournament opener

A few days off did not cool the bats of the Bellefonte Little League team.

The boys from the county seat are picking up where they left off on Monday.

Bellefonte cracked five home runs and needed just four innings to put away Huntingdon 11-1 Saturday evening in the opening round of the four-team Section 4 11-12 year-old Little League Tournament at the Belleville Sports Complex.

Bellefonte returns to the field at 6 p.m. Sunday to meet Red Land.

The section’s survivor heads to the State Tournament, which will be held July 20-27 in Lower Perkiomen near Philadelphia.

C.J. Funk blasted two homers while Ben McCartney, Colton Burd and Ben MacAfee delivered one shot each over the wall as every Bellefonte run crossed thanks to the long ball.

“The top of our order was hitting well,” manager Eric Funk said. “But now it’s starting to spread across the rest of our order.”

Cam Burris pitched three strong innings, then got help from MacAfee and McCartney to close out the win, with the trio combining to allow just six hits with seven strikeouts.

“(Burris) pitched real well,” Eric Funk said. “All three of them were pretty solid.”

The powerful performance at the plate for Bellefonte was similar to the team’s last game, a decisive 18-0 throttling of Clearfield on Monday in the District 5 championship in which the team also clocked five homers.

“We struggled in districts with Clearfield (in the first meeting), and they came back to beat them pretty badly,” Eric Funk said. “We kept that momentum tonight. We had lots of confidence and hit the ball real well. They seem to be peaking at the right time and getting confident at the right time.”

MacAfee cracked the game’s first long shot, following a single and a runner reaching on an error for three first-inning runs.

Two singles preceded C.J. Funk’s first blast, and Burd, who was 3 for 3, later added a solo shot in the second.

Following an Ashton Wetzler bunt single, C.J. Funk then had the game’s biggest rocket, launching the ball over a big tree beyond the fence in center field.

“I know I’m biased,” said Eric Funk of his son, who knocked in five runs. “But that was a monster shot.”

A Burd double set the stage for a McCartney two-run homer to close the Bellefonte scoring in the third and for the game.

Rece Ritchey started and took the loss for Huntingdon, and collected two singles at the plate while Draven Zook added a double.

Sunday’s opponent, Red Land, also won a shortened game by mercy rule against Indiana, setting up a clash of offensive powers.

“Red Land is always a tough team, and based on their score and our score, we look pretty similar,” Eric Funk said. “It’s going to be a tough game, I would assume. I feel like we have the momentum. There’s a chance of rain in the forecast, but I hope it doesn’t (rain). We want to capitalize on the momentum we have.”