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Bellarmine and Valley Christian faced off Saturday morning, and it was an absolute pitchers duel. Griffin Allen and Michael Castaneda did it for Valley Christian, while Wonny Kwak and Kyler Bacosa pitched for the Bells. The four pitchers combined for 21 strikeouts and only gave up a total of four runs in the game. Three of those runs went to Valley Christian, as one big inning for the Warriors gave them the win in this one.
The first three innings of this game went by in a blur with not a whole lot happening. Starting pitchers Allen and Kwak for the Warriors and Bells started off strong. Allen wouldn’t give up his first hit until the fourth inning, while Kwak only gave up one hit through the first three innings. Kwak dominated all day throwing six innings and having 12 strikeouts on the day. His one hiccup came in the fourth inning, which got a little weird and crazy.
With the Warriors struggling to find anything in the early part of the game, there was a leadoff hit by Jeff Heard. After a strikeout, Jaden Bitter drew a walk, making it first and second with just one away, and then the great baserunning and speed of Valley Christian came into play. A double steal would get rid of the force play and open up first but would also put pressure on the Bells to make a play and not make a mistake so that the Warriors didn’t score. Well the opening of first made a swing and miss strike out by Kwak turn into a steal of home for Heard and also allow Jacob Schlesselmen to get to first on the pass ball.
With the score now 1-0 and the Bells maybe just a little rattled after what just happened, Valley Christian decided to put on a safety squeeze, and it executed it perfectly. Jacob Froess bunted it perfectly towards first base, forcing Kwak to pick it up and throw it to first while Jaden Bitter scored to make it 2-0. Finally the last score of the inning came on a more conventional play, but that dropped third strikeout for the Bells came back to cost them two runs as Jacob Hudson hit a single to right field to score Schlesselman and make it a 3-0 ballgame. Kwak struck out three batters in the inning and only gave up one hit, but somehow the Warriors put three up on the board and took the 3-0 lead into the bottom of the fourth inning.
Griffin Allen was dealing and came out looking for a shutdown inning, but he got it, but not without some stress. Not giving up a hit in the first three innings, the leadoff man came up and got a base hit, breaking up the no-hitter the first time through the lineup. Just like the top half of the inning, a walk and a double steal made it second and third but this time nobody out in the inning. However, the Bells did not execute like Valley Christian did, as two huge base running mistakes made this stay a 3-0 lead. A ground ball to the third baseman caught the runner in no-man’s land, and he got tagged out trying to slide back into the base. A flyout to left was the second out, and the next big mistake was getting picked off at second base to end the inning. With second and third nobody out, the Bells could not answer the Warriors, costing themselves a huge opportunity to respond.
In the fifth inning, the Bells put together another rally, though. A leadoff double for Nolan Bridges got starter Griffin Allen, ending his game after his impressive four innings. Allen gave up just two hits in his outing on the day. Coming in for Allen was Castaneda, who was stellar. Inheriting the runner on second, he came in and struck out the next two batters but made one mistake on the day. Chase Knight was the one who took advantage of the mistake, as he singled and brought in the lone run for the Bells making it 3-1.
Kwak, after the wild fourth inning, settled down, retiring the final seven batters he faced. Ending the day for him in the sixth inning, his incredible outing will not be outshined by the stellar performance from the other side, as this was one of the best outings of the year in the Bay Area, averaging two strikeouts an inning against a great lineup..
Castaneda was the one who would continue to try and close it out for the Warriors. After giving up the one hit in the fifth inning, he also would not give up a hit in his final eight batters faced. As Bellarmine would try to mount a comeback in the final two innings, he pitched through one error and made it look easy going through the final nine outs of the game. Totaling four strikeouts in his three innings pitched, he closed the door on Bellarmine, and Valley Christian finished the three-game sweep of the Bells on the week.
Bellarmine will play four games next week, as it goes against Del Mar in a non-league game and then will face a ranked team Mitty three times on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, while Valley Christian will look to continue its great play this season. The 13-2 squad will play Saint Francis three times next week on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
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