Photo: Another unearned run in the second for Belmont.
After losing its first two games of the season in the past week, and with upstart Watertown breathing down its neck midway through its game on a blustery Monday afternoon, May 9, Belmont High School Baseball Head Coach Jim Brown was wondering who could spark the Marauders to put them back on track
And in true baseball tradition, it was a player who came off the bench to, literally, save the day.
After tweaking his ankle and sitting out the past two, starting catcher/reliever junior Cal Christofori took the ball from team ace Cole Bartels in the top of the fourth and proceeded to pitch four shutout innings to allow Belmont to take its only meeting of the season against its archrivals, 7-4.
“[Christofori] wasn’t supposed to play today but [Bartels] was struggling a bit and Cal said his ankle could go, and we got a huge effort out of him in relief,” said Brown.
Christofori gave up only four hits (one double) while striking out four, the final one a third out with Raiders on third and second in the 6th.
“I only sprained my ankle, so it wasn’t too big of a deal. They needed someone to throw, and I was there and just stepped in,” said the three-sport star.
The victory puts Belmont (9-2) one game from securing a place in the sectional postseason.
“It’ll be good to clinch it against Arlington on Wednesday, but they have been playing much better than they were at the beginning of the year,” he said.
Bartels struggled a bit in the game as Watertown’s batters showed a great deal of patience at the plate, sending Bartels’ pitch count up into the 60 after three innings. Watertown appeared to have scored in the top of the first on a fielder’s choice but the home plate umpire called the runners on second and first out on a rarely called interference play for not sliding into second.
Belmont took advantage in the bottom of the second of sloppy Watertown fielding to score five times on four errors and two singles by Bartels and shortstop Connor Dacey.
But the Raiders came right back, scoring four times in the third, the big blows by Watertown pitcher Kyle Foley who walloped a Bartels fastball far over the right field fence and Mike Giordano’s double that scored a pair.
But after facing Bartels’ fastballs, Christofori threw a healthy portion of lazy curves that kept the Raiders off balance for the remaining four innings.
Belmont got the insurance they were looking for in the fifth and sixth as Paul Ramsey (on a single) and Bryan Goodwin (sacrifice) batted runners in.
“We were going to make Watertown throw us out. Even in the last inning getting the final run, we were going to make sure they made the play in front of us,” said Brown.