Bath tops Belhaven for 10U all-star championship

Published 12:58 pm Tuesday, June 28, 2016

BELHAVEN — Belhaven’s 10U all-star baseball team topped Washington, 11-5, Monday evening in a rescheduled game from Saturday. The win punched its ticket for a rematch against Bath in the invitational tournament championship game.

Bath won the championship by defeating Belhaven, 5-2. Bath, playing as the home side, used a three-run fourth inning to break through in what had been a defensive standoff. The game was tied, 2-2, when Drew VanStaalduinen led off by drawing a walk. He made his way around to third and Andrew Harding drew another walk, putting runners on the corners with one out.

Andrew Harding sets up at second base in the fourth inning of Bath’s 10U title game against Belhaven. Harding scored one of Bath’s three runs in the frame. He also pitched in relief late in the game, doing an exceptional job of shutting down Belhaven’s offense — which had scored 11 runs against Washington earlier in the evening — to seal the win.

Cooper Charles’ single pushed across VanStaalduinen to break the tie and score what held up as the game-winning run. The base knock also put Harding within striking distance, allowing him to score on Wyatt Berry’s RBI groundout. Charles made it 5-2 by scoring on an ensuing error.

“I think it was just executing some things,” coach Mark Clinkscales said. “We had a great bunt that got put down, then we were able to move some runners up on mistakes they made. We did little things we had to do to find a way to win. For guys that are nine and 10 years old, that’s big to be able to make those plays.”

Bath only notched one hit in the frame. It was the boys’ patience at the plate that produced baserunners. It was once they got on the bags that they turned up the aggression.

“I don’t think it’s any secret what we’re going to do. We want to see a lot of pitches,” Clinkscales said. “We want their pitcher to throw as many pitches as he can. We also want to make sure that we see the ball. We don’t want to go up there and be an easy out. … We like to hit with two strikes. We work on it a lot in practice. It forces us to know the strike zone and put the ball in play.”

Bath’s 10U team poses with the trophy it won in Monday night’s championship game against Belhaven. After being awarded the trophy, each player got his turn holding it up as if it were the Stanley Cup.

Bath made a pitching change in the top of the fifth to neutralize Belhaven’s offense for the final two innings. Shane Biggs, who allowed just two runs on four hits, handed it over to Andrew Harding. He struck out the side in the fifth. Famous Wilson reached on an error, but Harding bounced back by inducing three consecutive outs. He made the game-ending catch when a ball was popped back up to him.

“(Harding) is somebody who, he only started pitching the last time we played Belhaven,” Clinkscales said. “He had some arm trouble earlier in the year and we just shut him down. Then he came to us in practice last week and said, ‘coach, my arm feels good. Can I try it?’ We tried him out on the mound and he was bringing it.”

Bath had its sights set on adding some insurance runs in the bottom of the fifth, but Bath’s defense stood tall to give it a chance at a comeback. With two outs and a pair of Bath runners in scoring position, Hayden Bowen fanned a batter to escape the jam.

Bo Spencer cleanly fields a ball in the infield and makes the throw to first base. With the exception of a couple of plays, Belhaven’s defense was stout all evening and kept the game close.

Belhaven faced the challenge of playing two games in a row. The boys coming up short in a closely contested game wasn’t for a lack of effort. Rather, they faced a rested Bath team that was able to capitalize on a few mistakes.

“We knew Bath was a well-coached team. They make the routine plays,” coach Stephen Andreoli said. “They play together all year. We knew it was going to be a battle, just like the other night. … We didn’t hit the ball as well as we had the other game. They got a couple when we didn’t. We didn’t lose this game because of a lack of effort.”