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Blue Devils clinch berth in PIAA state baseball championship

The 2003 Bellwood-Antis High School baseball team hasn’t exactly developed a reputation of taking opponents and administering the killer touch. Nevertheless, B-A punched their ticket to the PIAA State Finals with another come-from-behind 7-5 win over Chartiers-Houston.
Such a case was Monday, when District VI champ Bellwood-Antis traveled to the Whitefield Township Recreation Complex in Indiana, to battle the Chartiers-Houston Bucs, the third place finisher from District VII. Bellwood-Antis came from behind twice before putting the Bucs away with a double steal in the sixth inning on a play the Blue Devils just put into their play book the night before. Trailing 4-2, Bellwood-Antis scored twice in the fifth and three more times in the sixth to pull out the win.
Three was a lucky number for B-A senior right fielder Ryan Myers. First, Myers saved at least two runs in the first innings when he made a diving catch of a looping liner with runners on first and second. Then in consecutive at bats, Myers drove in the tying runs.
Chartiers-Houston already had two runs on the scoreboard when Myers made his game-saving grab near the right field foul line and both runners would have scored had the ball gotten past Ryan plus the Bucs would still have been hitting.
In the second inning, Shawn Weiand singled to center, moved up to second on a error on a ground ball by Derrick Miller, and came home on a single to right by Myers. Three was also lucky for Weiand, who scored three times in the contest.
In the fourth, Miller opened the frame with a double to right and scored on a one-out smash by Myers past the third base bag for his second base hit to knot the game at 2-2.
The Bucs opened the game with an infield single, a walk, an error, a true base hit and a little luck to score twice and threaten more until Myers catch.
After that slow start, B-A righty Nate Carlson settled down to give the Blue Devils three solid innings on the mound. When Jake France and Bob Mary begin the fourth with back-to-back singles however, Bellwood-Antis coach Steve Conlon went to Adam Plummer, who has been the Bellwood-Antis ace throughout the District and PIAA playoffs. Coming through yet again, Plummer got Chartiers-Houston in order on a flyout and two strikeouts.
In the fifth, the Bucs managed something no team has been able to do in six playoff appearances by Plummer-score two runs against the B-A lefty. Previously, the opposition has been able to score just two runs in a total of 32 and 2/3 innings. Plummer did the job coach Conlon asked however, and will be fresh for Friday.
Down again by two runs, Bellwood-Antis promptly answered Chartiers-Houston. Zach Stere and Plummer walked to lead off the fifth. Weiand singled sharply to load the bases. Derrick Miller walked to force in Stere to cut the deficit to 4-3. Nate Carlson hit into a pitcher-to-catcher fielder’s choice to get Plummer trying to score for the first out. Weiand scooted home on a wild pitch to tie the score again.
Coach Conlon pulled the strings again, bringing in Stere from shortstop to take over for Plummer on the mound in the sixth. Pitching for the first time since May 7, Stere (5-0) tossed two innings to register the win when his teammates tallied three runs in the sixth. The senior right hander fanned three, allowing one harmless run on two hits to pick up the win.
With the score tied 4-4, The Blue Devils (21-4) used a flash of lightning and an adventurous set play to put the game away in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Chris Alley, who reached base three straight times, another lucky three, walked to lead off the frame and was sacrificed to second by Ricky Shannon. With one out, Plummer provided the lightning by ripping a triple to the scoreboard in right-center field to plate Alley with the go-ahead run. Weiand was intentionally walked to put runners at the corners. Here, the B-A coaches, Conlon at third base and assistant coach Tim Weiand coaching first, put the play into motion.
“You can only use it with runners at first and third and two outs, with two strikes on the batter,” explained coach Weiand, “with a left-handed pitcher who can see the runner on first, but not third. You get both runners to break toward the next base at exactly the same time. The pitcher sees the runner at first take off, so he throws the ball to second to get him, while the runner on third scores on the play.”
On Monday, Chartiers-Houston lefty pitcher Justin Benson threw behind Weiand to first base whereå sophomore Andy McIlvaine frantically threw the ball to the plate to get Plummer trying to score. The hurried throw was down in the dirt and Plummer jumped over Buc sophomore catcher Brady Yevins. Yevins couldn’t handle the throw allowing Plummer to score, then hurriedly located the ball and threw wildly toward third base to try to get Weiand, who never stopped running. When the throw rolled into left field, Weiand continued home to score.
“It’s been a whole team effort,” said Coach Conlon. “Everytime we win we come up with different heroes. Today Ryan Myers came up with some big hits early that kept us in the ballgame and Zach Stere stepped in there and closed the door on Chartiers-Houston.”
Down 7-4, Chartiers-Houston scored once on Stere, but that was all the B-A senior would allow to set up a match with Elk Lake, a 2-1 winner over Muncy, in the State Championship Game.
On there return to Bellwood, the team and coaches were escorted through the Borough by the Bellwood police and fire engines of the Bellwood Excelsior Fire Company.
PIAA Western Final
at Whitefield Township Recreation Complex
Bellwood-Antis 7 Chartiers-Houston 5
CHARTIERS-HOUSTON – Benson, cf-p, 3-1-1; Haught, p-cf, 2-0-0; A. McIlvaine, 1b, 4-1-1; Novak, ss, 4-1-3; Yevons, c, 3-2-1; J. France, rf, 0-0-0; Burt, rf, 0-0-0; Moury, dh, 3-0-3; Moskal, dh, 0-0-0; Mary, lf, 4-0-1; D. France, 3b, 2-0-0; Falcione, ph, 1-0-0; C. McIlvaine, 2b, 3-0-1. TOTALS 29-5-11.
BELLWOOD-ANTIS – Shannon, cf, 3-0-0; Stere, ss-p, 2-1-0; Plummer, 1b-p, 3-1-1; Weiand, c, 3-3-2; Miller, lf, 3-1-1; Carlson, p-1b-ss, 3-0-0; Myers, rf, 3-0-2; Brisbin, 2b, 3-0-0; Alley, 3b, 1-1-1. TOTALS 24-7-7.
Chartiers-Houston 200 020 1 5-11-3.
Bellwood-Antis 010 123 X 7-7-1.
2B: Novak 1.
3B: Plummer 1.
RBI: Moury 2, Novak 1, Yevins 1, Myers 2, Plummer 1, Miller 1.
SO: Haught 4, Benson 1, Carlson 2, Plummer 3, Stere 3.
BB: Haught 4, Benson 3, Carlson 2, Plummer 1.
WP: Stere LP: Benson.