Photo: Junior pitcher Cole Bartels.
A throwing miscue with two outs in the bottom of the fourth allowed a pair of unearned runs to cross the plate and ended the 2015 season for Belmont High School Baseball, as the Marauders came out on the short end of a 3-1 loss to host and number-one seed Danvers in the Division 2 North sectional tournament on Monday, June 8.
“Unearned runs will do you in all the time,” said long-time Belmont Head Coach Jim Brown.
The anticipated pitching duel between Belmont High School’s Cole Bartels and Danvers High’s Andrew Olszak – their respective league’s MVP – didn’t disappoint as the aces battled from the mound with Bartels throwing a hard-fought one-hitter only to be matched by Olszak’s two-hit gem.
“Coming back on three days rest (after winning the playoff opener in Wilmington this past Thursday) Cole pitched a great game. I think they had a single infield bleeder,” Brown said of his junior ace, who collected six strikeouts in his six-inning stint.
While Bartels battled deep into counts against Danvers, Olszak – who led his team in hits, runs, scoring and set a league record for stolen bases – threw a selection of pitches that Marauders hitters kept pounding into the ground.
“You have to tip your hat to their pitcher,” said Brown, noting that Olszak, 8-0 in the regular season with two saves, surrendered a total of four walks for the entire year.
“He can pitch inside, outside, low, high; he just hit his spots,” said Brown.
Danvers (19-3) took the lead in the bottom of the first on a sacrifice fly after the Falcon’s second batter went from first to third on a one-out single by Olszak.
Belmont (12-10) came back to even the score in the next half-inning as sophomore catcher Cal Christofori doubled a first pitch offering. He advanced to third on Nick Call’s sacrifice bunt and came home on Robbie Montanaro’s sac fly.
The Marauders defense stuffed out a threat in the bottom of the second when second baseman Trevor Kelly caught an attempted slap hit to double up the runner at first, followed by Christofori catching another Falcon player leaning the wrong way at first, resulting him to be tagged out at second.
But Bartels’ fielders failed him in the fourth as a routine grounder ate up Kelly to put the lead-off batter on first. A sacrifice, a walk and a stolen base placed men at second and third with one out. It appeared Belmont had the Falcon player who was heading home dead to rights on a missed suicide squeeze. But a slip by Call allowed the player to scamper back to the hot corner.
With two outs and a full count, Danvers’ DH drove the ball to shortstop Noah Riley, who rushed the throw just a bit. But that little extra push sent the ball over Montanaro’s reach.
Two scored, and Belmont faced attempting to score against a pitcher they had yet to solve. Kelly came close with a two-out double in the sixth, but he was stranded at second.
While Christofori kept the deficit to a pair coming in relief of Bartels – twice gunning down runners at second – Belmont could only get one runner on the bases with two outs in the ninth before yet another ground ball out from Olszak finished the season.
“I was proud of the way we battled. We always play [Danvers] tough,” said Brown.
“It’s always a close game. You’ve got to play a clean game, or they’ll capitalize on your mistakes,” said Brown.