BELLWOOD - Jake Stapleton's 2011 spring with the bat was one he'd just as soon forget, so he took it upon himself to make sure that wouldn't happen again.
As a result, on Monday he had a game to remember.
Stapleton had twice as many hits in one game as he had all last season, going 4-for-4 and driving in the winning run as Bellwood-Antis came back from 11 runs down in the fourth inning to clip visiting Juniata Valley in eight innings, 13-12, in Inter-County Conference North Division baseball action.
"Everybody thought we should have given up. We didn't. We stuck with it. We kept on playing. Everybody hit through the lineup, and that's what you need,'' Stapleton said.
Eight different Blue Devils batted safely as B-A came back for the sixth time this season to run its record to 7-2 overall and 6-2 in what's turned out to be a very competitive division. Bellwood trailed 12-1 heading into the bottom of the fourth before battling back with three runs in that inning, three more in the fifth, two in the sixth and three in the seventh to force extra innings.
"It just seems like that's the way these guys play. It's going to come back to hurt us, but we play from behind,'' Blue Devils coach Steve Conlon said. "It just seems like it takes these guys some time to get going.
"We were going to clear the bench if we didn't get any runs [in the fourth inning] and let everyone get a chance to play. Then we scored some runs, and we said, 'OK, let's keep the starters in.'''
Valley's players and coaches were stunned. Bill Peters said he'd never before lost a game in his 16 years coaching the Green Hornets when he'd had such a big lead, but, if it was going to happen, he thought this might be the year.
"They never quit, and we get relaxed after getting a lead like that, and we shouldn't have. But it's hard to get them to do that,'' Peters said. "We do that. We get a lead, and we just try to stay on that. You can't do that this year, because all these teams are pretty equal.''
Stapleton, a sophomore outfielder hitting eighth, capped the Devils' comeback by jerking an offering from Tanner Perow, the third Hornet pitcher, off the base of the fence near the left-field line for a long single that plated Bryan Lynn from third with one out.
"In the fifth inning, I was thinking, 'If this goes into extra innings or the bottom of the seventh, I hope I get the winning hit. I hope I'm the last one up.' I went up like I wasn't nervous. It was just like any at-bat, and I got a good hit,'' Stapleton said.
Stapleton, who also walked once, reached base in all but one of the innings in which Bellwood scored, driving in two runs and scoring two. The four hits raised his batting average to .407, a marked improvement for a player that hit .154 in 12 games last season.
"Last year, I didn't have a good at-bat at all. In the winter, we went to this indoor facility and worked on my swing. I'm actually hitting the ball pretty good now,'' Stapleton said.
The last four spots in the Devil order were 10-for-16 with six runs and six RBIs. Lynn had three hits - including a pair of doubles - and three runs, and No. 9 hitter Tyler McNelis had a pair of singles after entering the game in the second inning.
"Bryan Lynn's been out for awhile. That's just his third game this season. He hit the ball well,'' Conlon said. "We've been hot and cold with the bats. We've been in a dry spell, and today they just seemed to explode.''
Casey Gray pitched the eighth for the win, but Steffan Wyland got a big hand from Conlon after holding Valley to six hits, a walk and one unearned run over five innings of relief to give B-A a chance to rally.
Juniata Valley scored eight runs in the top of the first, all unearned after the Devils committed four errors. Perow finished with three hits for the Hornets, while Wyatt Belinda, Derek Greene, Ryan Norris and Troy Singer each had two. Belinda scored four times, and Greene drove in three runs.
Game notes: Valley slipped to 4-5 overall and 3-5 in the ICC North. ... The Hornets were without shortstop Ethan Morrison for non-baseball reasons and outfielder David Ormsby only could pinch run because of a broken finger. Both teams return to the diamond on Wednesday - Juniata Valley is at Tussey Mountain, while Bellwood is at Moshannon Valley.
JUNIATA VALLEY (12): Belinda ss 442, Norris dh-p-1b-2b 522, Low cf 000, Greene c 402, Claar cr 020, Perow 1b-p 403, Ormsby pr 000, Edmiston p-cf 401, Faubert cr-lf 010, Singer 2b-3b 512, Johnson 410, Varner rf 411, S. Houck 3b-1b 500. Totals - 43-12-13.
BELLWOOD-ANTIS (13): DeGennaro cf 511, Luensmann 1b 411, Gray ss-p 421, Beech p-ph 200, Wyland p 300, Snyder 3b 000, Stuby 3b-ss 321 Lynn rf 533 Hunter dh 100, Creppage c 311, Stapleton lf 424, Dionis 2b 000, McNelis 2b 312. Totals - 37-13-14.
SCORE BY INNINGS
Juniata Valley803 100 00-12 13 4
Bellwood-Antis010 332 31-13 14 6
One out when winning run scored.
E-Dionis 2, Gray 3, Stuby. DP-Bellwood-Antis. LOB-Juniata Valley 11, Bellwood-Antis 8. 2B-Belinda, Edmiston, Norris, Stuby, Lynn 2. RBI-Perow, Singer, Johnson, Varner, Belinda, Norris 2, Greene 3, McNelis 3, Edmiston 2, Lynn 2, Stapleton 2, DeGennaro, Gray. SAC-Creppage. SF-Perow. SB-Singer, Stapleton.
Juniata Valley: Edmiston-5 IP, 10 H, 7 R, 6 ER, 2 BB, 5 SO; Norris-1 IP, 2 H, 5 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 3 SO; Perow (L)-1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 SO.
Bellwood-Antis: Beech-2 IP, 7 H, 11 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 1 SO; Wyland-5 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 SO; Gray (W)-1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 SO.
Beech pitched to three batters in the third.
Norris pitched to three batters in the seventh.
HBP-By Gray (Stuby). WP-Norris, Perow.
Umpires: John Molnar (plate), Joe Bidoli Jr. (bases).
Records: Juniata Valley (4-5, 3-5 ICC North); Bellwood-Antis (7-2, 6-2 ICC North).