Bellefonte starting pitcher Adam Armstrong’s grin became a natural part of his windup on Friday.
There was plenty for Armstrong and the Red Raiders to smile about, as the left-hander pitched a complete game to lead Bellefonte to a 9-2 win over Bald Eagle Area at Doc Etters Field.
“He was enjoying himself, and you should be on a baseball field,” BEA coach Jim Gardner said. “You should be having fun all the time. It should be a fun game. It should be a relaxed game. It should be an emotional game in a positive way.
“And we’re not seeing that right now, so hopefully we figure it out here.”
The Eagles (11-8) will head into the postseason after finishing the regular season on a three-game losing streak.
The Red Raiders took control with a three-run first inning and led by eight runs going into the fifth. Tanner Helms finished 3 for 3, scored three runs and drove in four runs, Garrett Reiter went 2 for 3 with three RBIs and Tyler Kreger had two hits and scored two runs to highlight Bellefonte’s 10-hit attack.
The Red Raiders (9-11) closed out the regular season with a win despite missing three starters who were on the senior class trip.
BEA knew Bellefonte didn’t have its seniors going into the game.
“Did we think that we’d just show up and win?” Gardner said. Those kids came to play ball today.”
Helms delivered the big hit in the first inning.
With one out and runners on second and third, he lifted a fly ball to left field.
“I kind of thought it was going to be a routine pop-up to the left fielder,” Helms said.
But with the wind blowing, it carried out and cleared the fence for a three-run home run, his first of the season.
The Red Raiders knocked out BEA starting pitcher Brian Egan in the third inning.
Egan hit two batters and the Eagles committed an error to the load the bases with no outs for Cade Fortney.
Fortney lined a single down the left field line for a two-run single to make it 5-0 and end Egan’s day. Helms’ one-run single and Reiter’s two-run double in the fourth pushed Bellefonte’s lead to 8-0, proving to be more than enough run support for Armstrong.
Armstrong, who works quickly on the mound, relied on his curveball throughout the game.
He gave up six hits and two runs while striking out six and walking four in seven innings for the win.
“That’s what he’s got going for him is how much he controls the game and being able to throw two pitches over at all times,” Bellefonte coach Dan Fravel said.
The left-hander was also smiling often.
It was something Gardner didn’t see in his own dugout.
The Eagles didn’t play with emotion Friday. Their coach hopes they’re ready for the playoffs.
“I’m afraid that if they don’t get themselves straightened out that this will be over and they’ll be wondering what happened and they’ll be sorry about it,” Gardner said. “I don’t want ‘em to do that. I want ‘em to go out hard, I want ‘em to be focused, played hard with emotion, have fun. I don’t want there to be any regrets.”