Chiefs rally again, beat KR in sectional final
Bellefontaine’s Gauge Hayman dives past Kenton Ridge catcher Marcus Lykins to score a run in Thursday’s Division II sectional final at Bob Brenning Field in Urbana. (EXAMINER PHOTOS | TONY BARRETT)
URBANA — Bellefontaine fell down 3-0 after half of an inning and faced the task of having to make a comeback against a pitcher coming off a no-hitter. No problem.
The second-seeded Chiefs, who have shown a knack for dramatic rallies, used the strength of a four-run sixth inning to topple fourth-seeded Kenton Ridge 7-4 in a Division II sectional baseball final at Bob Brenning Field.
“We have an attitude that we are never out of game, no matter what the situation is,” said Bellefontaine standout senior shortstop Jarrod Houchin. “This team has a positive attitude. We don’t get down on ourselves if something goes wrong.”
Bellefontaine (25-5) advances to play New Richmond (25-5) in a district championship game at 1 p.m. Saturday at Mason High School.
Kyle Brunner threw three scoreless innings to help Bellefontaine rally for a 7-4 win over Kenton Ridge on Thursday.
The Chiefs have had to rally for wins in its last two tournament games.
A week ago, Bellefontaine trailed 4-2 in the bottom of the seventh against Springfield Shawnee before coming back to eventually prevail in nine innings.
“These guys stay loose and stay together,” said BHS head coach Art Caudill. “That is why we are able to pull through in games like this.”
Kenton Ridge led 4-3 going into the sixth inning Thursday. Bellefontaine busted loose against KR right-hander Mitchell Schneider in the bottom of the sixth.
Nick Burton, Gauge Hayman and Jarrod Houchin each had an RBI double and Drake Roebuck added an RBI single to fuel the Chiefs’ four-run outburst against Schneider, who did not allow a hit in last week’s tournament win over Benjamin Logan.
“We could tell he was getting fatigued,” said Houchin. “He was all over the zone. The only thing he was throwing for a strike was his fast ball, so that is what we sat on.”
On a team that seems to have a new hero every game, Kyle Brunner took his turn Thursday.
A senior who has been Bellefontaine’s number-three pitcher this season, Brunner relieved starter Cody Lyons in the fifth and allowed only one hit in three innings of work. He retired the last seven batters he faced.
“It was a tough spot, but I have fun with pitching in pressure spots like that,” said Brunner. “My pitches were working and I was able to get ahead in the count. I trust my catcher and coaches, and that led me through today.”
Kenton Ridge (16-13) collected 10 hits through the first four innings before being cooled off by Brunner, who improved to 6-1 on the season. Brunner struck out two and did not walk a batter.
“Hats off to Kyle,” said Caudill. “He comes to work every day ready to get better. He approaches the game with a great attitude. I am thrilled to see him have success.”
Lyons was Bellefontaine’s only known commodity on the mound coming into the season, but Brunner and sophomore Tyler Jones have solidified the rotation.
“Those three guys have developed into a nice three-headed monster,” said Caudill. “We have faith in every one of those guys that they can go out and get the job done.”
Roebuck went 3-4 with two RBI to spearhead Bellefontaine’s bats. Nick Burton had a pair of doubles, Houchin was 2-3 with two RBI and Hayman added a pair of hits.
Bellefontaine must quickly change gears as it has just one day to prepare for Saturday’s matchup against New Richmond.
New Richmond won the American division of the Southern Buckeye Conference this spring with a 9-1 mark in league play. The Lions beat Goshen 2-0 in their sectional final Thursday.
“We just have to be us,” said Caudill. “We can’t change anything. We have to keep doing the little things and taking care of what we can control. That has got us 25 wins.”
BELLEFONTAINE 7, KENTON RIDGE 4
Cougars 310 000 0 — 4 11 2
Chiefs 210 004 X — 7 11 1
Schneider, Davis (6) and Lykins; Lyons, Brunner (5) and Baughman. WP—Brunner; LP—Schneider.