MORRISDALE - It's not very often you find a freshman starter who comes through in the big games.
Don't tell that to Bellwood-Antis' starting battery of Chad Luensmann and Trenton Creppage.
The freshman duo came through big in the Blue Devils' 8-4 victory over West Branch in the first round of the District 6 Class AA playoffs on Tuesday.
Luensmann pitched a complete game to pick up the win, while Creppage hit a three-run homer in the second inning to get things going for Bellwood.
"For a freshman going out there in the first round of the playoffs, I thought he got on top and limited his walks," said Blue Devils head coach Steve Conlan. "Until the last inning where we should've made some plays, he did a good job mixing his pitches and kept them off balance all day.
"And Creppage, he got a fastball, caught it and hit it hard. For a freshman catcher and a freshman pitcher, that was a good game for the both of them."
Bellwood-Antis took the lead in the second as Ryan Stuby got things started with a walk. A one-out single by Josh Wertman put runners on first and second for Creppage, who took a 1-0 pitch from Warrior starter Chad Speigle over the center-field fence.
"He caught up to that fastball," said West Branch head coach Ryan Mostyn of Creppage. "He did a nice job and I give him a lot of credit. For only a freshman and having four RBIs, he's definitely a nice hitter for them."
The Blue Devils scored a fourth run in the inning as Jake Stapleton came home on a Casey Gray double. That also chased Speigle from the game. Reliever Aaron Lidgett came in and got the third out with runners on second and third.
After the Warriors got a run back in the bottom of the frame, Bellwood then tacked on some more runs in the third.
Stuby led off the inning by getting hit in the helmet with a pitch. Bryan Lynn walked before Creppage knocked in another run with a single.
A bases-loaded walk to Luensmann and an RBI single from Gray put the Blue Devils up 7-1.
Bellwood added a final run in the top of the sixth, as Gray was hit by a pitch and eventually scored on an error.
West Branch tallied three unearned runs in the bottom of the seventh on a bases-clearing, two-out double by Speigle.
But Luensmann got Dakota Wick to ground out to him to set the final at 8-4.
Bellwood-Antis improved to 14-7 overall. The Blue Devils travel to second-seeded Mount Union on Friday afternoon.
"We've played them twice this year in two close games," Conlan said. "We could've won one of them. We will go down there. We know what they are going to throw and they probably know what we are going to throw, so hopefully it will be another good game."
West Branch ended its season at 12-7.
BELLWOOD-ANTIS (8): DeGennaro cf 4000, Luensmann p 2001, Gray ss 3132, McNelis 2b 0000, Beech dh 4000, Stuby 3b 2210, Lynn rf 4110, Wertman 1b 4110, Creppage c 3224, Stapleton lf 3100. Totals: 29-8-8-8.
WEST BRANCH (4): Baugh ss 4110, Lidgett cf-p 4100, Speigle p-cf 3013, McGonigal 3b 0000, Wick dh 4110, Gurbal 1b 3030, Kerlin rf 1000, Hubler lf 3001, Burnisky c 3000, Emigh 2b 3120. Totals: 28-4-8-4.
Score by Innings
Bellwood-Antis043 001 0-8 8 1
West Branch010 000 3-4 8 1
E-Gray; Emigh. 2B-Gray 2; Speigle, Emigh. HR-Creppage (2 on, 2nd inning). WP-Luensmann. LP-Speigle (3-4). SO-Luensmann 7, Speigle 4, Lidgett 6. BB-Luensmann 2, Speigle 3, Lidgett 3.
Records: Bellwood-Antis (14-7); West Branch (12-7)