Taking advantage of four errors in the first inning by Greater Johnstown, the Bellefonte Red Raiders tallied eight runs in that opening stanza and moved on in the District 6 Class AAA tournament with a 12-2 win over the Trojans in five innings Tuesday at Point Stadium.
The Red Raiders advance to face top-seed Somerset on Thursday in the semifinals.
On Tuesday, Bellefonte pounded out 12 hits, with an inside-the-park home run by Tanner Helms in the fifth serving as the knockout blow —setting the final and putting the mercy rule in motion after reliever Kyler Mellott held the Trojans (11-10) scoreless in the fifth.
The outburst was a long time coming in the eyes of the squad’s coach.
Logan Mathieu and Nick Jabco reached base with two outs in the fifth before Helms roped a ball to center just out of the reach of a diving Rashad Jordan-Maines. Despite a strong throw from Jordan-Maines, Helms beat the relay to complete the inside-the-park home run, giving Bellefonte a 10-run edge.
The first-inning eruption established the Red Raiders’ momentum.
Cade Fortney’s single chased in Tyler Kreger to open the Bellefonte scoring with Jabco coming across a batter later as Dylan Deitrich reached on an error. Storm Smith added two more runs to the Red Raiders’ lead with a double to left.
Deitrich later scored as Garrett Reiter reached on an error. Kreger and Mathieu also provided run-scoring hits in an inning that saw 12 Bellefonte batters step in against Greater Johnstown starter Connor Kobal.
“In warmups we were a little anxious and that carried out into the first inning,” Greater Johnstown coach Kerry Pfeil said. “Bellefonte has a good quality team and we just couldn’t overcome those mistakes.”
The Trojans cut a run out of the Red Raiders’ lead in the second on Isaiah Keller’s solo home run to the left-center power alley. Bellefonte got the run back in the top of the third as Kreger worked a walk from Keller, who pitched four innings in relief of Kobal, two batters before Jabco chased him in with a single to right.
With the bases loaded and one out, Greater Johnstown’s Ray Ray Johnson’s RBI groundout to second brought in Jordan-Maines.
Bellefonte’s Dom Masullo pitched three innings and fanned five batters before giving way to Mellott, who closed out the win with six strikeouts over two innings.