Miller pitches Bellwood-Antis to first victory over Penns Valley

When fourth-year head coach Steve Conlon looked at his baseball team before the season began, he made the comment that he was hoping the very young roster would by the end of the season get improved pitching from his young starters and good defense. Walks and errors had contributed to just a dozen wins over the last two seasons for the Blue Devils. Conlon believed the potential was there, he just wasn’t sure how long it would take to develop.
The first six ballgames of the 2006 season proved Conlon and his crystal ball to be totally correct-all losses in which the inexperienced pitching staff and defense gave up at least one big inning in every game. These were big innings that turned potential wins into losses as the young Blue Devils were forced to learn on the run.
On Monday at Stadium Drive Field, everything came together for the young Blue Devils. Sophomore Justin Miller tossed a six-inning one-hitter, the defense was perfect and senior L. J. Seidel plated Earnie Kelley with the winning run, in a 3-1 triumph for the first Bellwood-Antis win of the year.
This game began back on April 3, but was halted after the top half of the first inning by lightning and then rain.
With Kelly on the mound, Penns Valley scored a run in the visitors half of the first without a hit. Steve Alterio led off with a walk. Mike Brubaker moved him up a base with a sacrifice bunt, and the fleet-footed Ram junior did the rest all by himself, stealing both third and home for a 1-0 lead when lightning got everybody off the field and then a swirling rain made the field unplayable for the rest of the evening.
When the game was picked up again on Monday, Miller was on the mound for Bellwood-Antis. Getting some help from his defense, Miller mowed downs the Rams on just one hit, a lead-off base hit up the middle by Nate Frankenberger in the fourth.
Miller struck out four and walked three and at one point retired 10 Penns Valley batters in a row and finished with 12 of 13 outs. After freshman shortstop Nate Gray went deep into the hole to throw out Jake Kieffer for the first out in the seventh, Miller hit Cory Neiderer with a pitch to break up the string, but regained control of the situation to end the game with two call strike-three whiffs.
The B-A defense helped out Miller on several occasions. Gray and third baseman Chad Coho refused to allow a ball get through the left side of the infield, catcher Blaze Winterstein threw out a runner attempting to steal early and Ram base runners were few and far between after that.
After Penns Valley scored their run without a hit, Bellwood-Antis returned the favor, tying the score in the fourth.
Kelly, who walked three times drew a base on balls then stole second base, moved to third on a groundout by Brandon Beech and scored on a wild pitch.
The Blue Devils broke open a very closely contested game until that time with two runs in the sixth.
Kelley walked for the third time and again stole second base. Coho was hit by a pitch with one out and Seidel drove in Kelley with a clutch single that bounced off the 18-foot high fence in left center field to put the Blue Devils in front 2-1. Coho scored on an error by the Rams shortstop with an insurance run.
“It was a great overall team game today,” said Conlon. “Justin pitched a great game. He cut down on his walks, threw strikes, made Penns Valley put the ball on the ground, and the defense played spectacularly, without an error. That was what we needed to win, no errors, no walks and L. J. came through with a big hit when we needed it.
Bellwood-Antis (1-6) is back in action for the second of four straight days today, when they host Bishop Guilfoyle at 4:30 p.m.
Bellwood-Antis 3 Penns Valley 1
Penns Valley – S. Alterio, cf, 2-1-0; Brubaker, rf, 1-0-0; Jo. Kieffer, c, 3-0-0; Frankenberger, 1b, 2-0-1; D. Alterio, 3b, Ja. Kieffer, lf, 3-0-0; Neiderer, 2b, 2-0-0; Musser, p, 0-0-0; Weaver, p, 0-0-0; Wingard, dh, 2-0-0; Homan, ss, 3-0-0. TOTALS 20-1-1.
Bellwood-Antis – Ju. Manning, 2b, 3-0-1; Kleinfelter, lf, 3-0-1; Kelley, p-1b, 0-2-0; Beech, 3b-rf, 3-0-0; Coho, 1b-3b, 2-1-0; Alley, ss, 0-0-0; Ja. Manning, cf, 0-0-0; Seidel, dh, 3-0-1; Winterstein, c, 2-0-0; J. Miller, rf-p, 3-0-2; Gray, cf-ss, 3-0-0. TOTALS 22-3-5.
Penns Valley 100 000 0 1-1-1.
Bellwood-Antis 000 102 X 3-5-0.
RBI: Seidel.
SO: Weaver 4, Kelley 2, J. Miller 4.
BB: Weaver 4, Kelley 1, J. Miller 3.
WP: J. Miller LP: Weaver