MARTINSBURG - Zach Slagenweit's at bat during the third inning of Central's District 6 Class AA baseball quarterfinal against Bellwood-Antis was so long that someone attending the game could have walked across the street and picked up some ice cream at Ritchey's without missing a batter.
What they would have missed, though, was a plate appearance that summed up the game.
Slagenweit fouled off seven pitches and saw 13 in all while earning a walk to force in a run during the Scarlet Dragons' three-run third that broke the game open in an eventual 11-2 Central triumph. Central will travel to top-seeded Blairsville for a semifinal matchup on Thursday.
Mirror photo by J.D.?Cavrich
Central’s Ethan?Lewis races to third base for a triple.
"We talk about how important putting the ball in play and not striking out is in high school baseball," Central coach A.J. Hoenstine said. "Zach had two fantastic at bats in this game. He's a scrapper in there. That really deflates the other team.
"He's done a great job out of the No. 9 spot in our order, and I like to see at bats like that just as much as I like to see home runs."
Central took advantage of 10 walks issued by Bellwood-Antis pitchers and scored at least one run in each of the first five innings.
Meanwhile, Scarlet Dragon pitcher Mike Mock held the Blue Devils in check. B-A had its best opportunities in the second and third innings but came away with just a lone run in each frame. Mock allowed just three baserunners and no hits through the final four innings.
"I just stayed focused and tried to throw strikes," Mock said. "After getting out of those early jams, it got my confidence up, I threw strikes and I got them out."
Trailing 4-1 with the bases loaded and two outs in the third inning, Bellwood's Seth Hunter came to the plate. In his last at bat against Mock, Hunter ripped an RBI double to the wall, but this time Mock escaped the jam without even retiring Hunter. Mock picked Tanner Snyder off first base and just one run scored.
"A big momentum shift was when our kid got picked off first base," Bellwood-Antis coach Steve Conlon said. "That killed our momentum and gave them some. We had a good hitter up, and that squashed it. I think the wind left our sails right there."
The Scarlet Dragons (15-4) hit Bellwood starter Casey Gray hard and took a 3-0 lead in the first inning. Ethan Lewis tripled with one out. An out later, Kasy Hamm doubled home Lewis and came home himself on a Bradi Moore single. Moore scored after Gray walked two batters and hit Cole Kreider. Kreider finished the game with four plate appearances but no official at bats, walking twice and getting hit by two pitches.
"These guys really stay after each other, and we get contributions from each guy," Hoenstine said. "They practice hard, and they're a good all-around team. Hopefully we'll keep it rolling Thursday."
Zach Croft and Mock singled to begin the bottom of the third inning before Kreider was hit by a pitch to load the bases with no outs. Slagenweit earned his 13-pitch walk to bring home the first run before Austin Cunningham walked on four pitches to drive in another. Lewis made it 7-2 on a fielder's choice and the Blue Devils never threatened again.
"We can go pretty far," Mock said. "But I don't want to look too far ahead. We have to take one game at a time."
Of the 11 players who played for Bellwood (17-6) Monday, Haden DeGennaro, Bryan Lynn, Seth Hunter, Danny Beech and Steffan Wyland played in their final game in a Blue Devil uniform.
"This was a good group of seniors who gave everything they had," Conlon said. "It's a shame the way they had to go out. They probably aren't going out the way they wanted to, but they had a great year.
BELLWOOD-ANTIS (2): DeGennaro cf 300, Luensmann 3b-1b 400, Gray p-ss 311, Beech rf-p-1b 300, Creppage c 100, Z. Mock cr 010, Snyder ss-2b 301, Hunter 2b-3b-p 101, Wyland 1b-p 100, Lynn rf 200, Stapleton lf 200. Totals - 23-2-3.
CENTRAL (11): Cunningham ss 411, Lewis rf 511, Stern 1b 301, Benton pr 010, Hamm c 402, Ponder cr 020, Moore lf 412, Vollkommer 2b 000, Croft dh 221, M. Mock p 302, Mellott cr 020, Kreider 3b 020, Slagenweit cf 100. Totals - 26-11-10.
SCORE BY INNINGS
Bellwood-Antis011 000 0-2 3 1
Central313 220 X-11 10 5
E-Gray 2, Beech, Luensmann, Creppage, Kreider. 2B-Hunter, Hamm, Cunningham. 3B-Lewis. RBI-Hunter, Lewis 2, Cunningham, Hamm, Moore, Mock, Kreider, Slagenweit.
BELLWOOD: Gray (L) 1 IP, 3 H, 2 K, 2 BB; Wyland 1 IP, 3 H; Beech 1 IP, 3 BB; Hunter 3 IP, 3 H, 2 K, 5 BB.
CENTRAL: M. Mock (W) 7 IP, 3 H, 7 K, 6 BB.
Records: Bellwood-Antis (17-6); Central (15-4).