Bellevue continues push for SBC Lake title with win over Fliers
CLYDE — Two schools separated by just a few miles battling it out with league title aspirations on the line.
What more can you ask for?
It was Bellevue that got a bit of revenge on Clyde for an earlier season loss, topping the Fliers, 8-1, in a key Sandusky Bay Conference Lake division matchup.
“We played really well,” Bellevue coach Andy Dennings said. “We were able to put a lot of pressure on them and we forced their hands with some things.”
The Redmen (12-7 overall) keep pace with Norwalk (14-8) at 6-3 in league play. Norwalk faces Sandusky on Thursday while Bellevue also has a makeup game with Sandusky on May 16.
“It took us a bit to get going on (Grant) Reese,” Dennings said of Clyde’s starting pitcher. “He is a good pitcher. We were able to get some things going and then we were able to do a lot of different things from that point on.”
Clyde falls to 12-9, 5-4 — falling a game back in the league standings with Perkins (14-7, 6-4). Clyde will only finish its last league game — a game that is tied 3-3 in the top of the eighth inning at Columbian — if both Bellevue and Norwalk lose to Sandusky.
“It absolutely is disappointing and frustrating,” Clyde coach Drew Linder said. “I think the best word to sum it up is disappointing.”
It was actually the Fliers who scored first off Bellevue starter Ethan Prenatt. Clyde opened the second inning with singles off the bats of Reese and Trent Cook, but Prenatt bounced back to get the next two batters. However, Dillon Overmyer poked a single into the outfield for a 1-0 lead.
The Redmen left three runners on over the first two innings and went down in order in the third before breaking through.
Keegan Ray opened the fourth inning with a single before moving up twice on wild pitches. After a strikeout, Garrett Vickery walked and stole second. Chase Eisenhauer then laid down a bunt and Ray slid in safely on the play at home.
Eisenhauer then swiped second base and the throw down skipped into the outfield, allowing Vickery to score to take the lead. Eisenhauer stole third and scored when No. 9 hitter Preston Ray singled.
“In the first game, we left 12 runners on,” Dennings said of a 3-0 home loss to Clyde on April 10. “We were able to get some guys on today and finally was able to scratch one across. I think that was the key — to get one and it would take the pressure off.”
Bellevue increased the lead in the sixth inning. Prenatt doubled to lead off the inning before Vickery singled into right. After a strikeout, Brad Miller’s second single of the day brought in Prenatt, ending Reese’s day. The Redmen then executed a double steal to perfection as Miller stole second, allowing Vickery to come home. Dalton Hay hit an infield grounder that was misplayed, scoring Miller for a 6-1 margin.
“We made a lot of mistakes tonight, but Bellevue also hit the ball,” Linder said. “They made Grant pitch out of his comfort zone in the fourth inning. I am not going to blame the mistakes. They hit the ball and they did things when they needed to.”
The fielding woes for Clyde continued in the seventh inning. Two more errors led to two more runs for the Redmen.
“It was a snowball effect of mistakes,” Linder said. “We cannot rebound from a mistake and we snowball from it. That was the 3-6 team that I was coaching at the beginning of the year. We were full of mistakes and we beat ourselves.”
Meanwhile, Prenatt battled the Fliers throughout, getting big outs when he needed to and throwing five solid innings when his team needed him the most.
“He is a kid we expected to throw like that,” Dennings said. “He has had a little bit of an injury, so he has not stretched out that long. For him to come out and get five innings against these guys was a really good outing.”
Linder said the team was thrown for a bit of a loop at the beginning of the week. Both Norwalk and Perkins lost on Monday, which suddenly brought about a four-way tie atop the league standings entering Tuesday’s action.
“As of Monday, we had a game plan not thinking we were in contention for the league title,” Linder said. “We also knew we have to play Bellevue in the sectional final. Monday night happens and we rethink our plan and change the pitching matchup.”
Reese pitched into the sixth inning, allowing six runs on nine hits. He struck out eight and threw 108 pitches. Bellevue as a team saw 137 pitches on the day.
“I think that goes hand in hand with us being able to put some pressure on them,” Dennings said. “As a guy on the mound, you start thinking about those things. We had good at-bats.”
Ray threw two innings of one-hit ball in relief of Prenatt. He walked one, struck out one, and was the beneficiary of a nice 6-4-3 double play in the sixth inning.
“We knew we had it in us,” Dennings said of a potential league title. “We said that all year. We feel like we have let some games slip away. It does not surprise me.”
The teams will meet next Friday back in a Division II sectional final at Clyde at 5 pm. The winner advances to the district at Sports Force Park in Sandusky.