MANLIUS — The St. Bede Bruins came to Wednesday’s Class 2A Bureau Valley Regional semifinal in Manlius knowing they needed to go through their rival the Hall Red Devils and came away with an 8-2 victory to propel themselves into the championship game Saturday.
Holding onto a narrow 3-2 lead going into the top of the fifth inning, St. Bede junior designated hitter G.W. Leynaud stepped to the plate with two on and two out and crushed the pitch over the left field fence to make the game 6-2 St. Bede.
“That’s a big, big, big blow and he (G.W. Leynaud) hits the three-run homer and maybe the wind helped a bit but we’ll take it,” St. Bede coach John Bellino said.
The Bruins seized momentum for the remainder of the game, adding two on their way to a regional championship berth. They will Erie/Prophetstown at 10 a.m. Saturday. EP was a 3-2 winner over Princeton.
“If I could rewind it, I would just intentionally walk the kid,” Hall coach Tom Keegan said, “But you can’t relive it.”
St. Bede jumped on the board early as a double by center fielder Jarret Olson plated first baseman Ethan Duttlinger to give the Bruins early momentum and an early 1-0 lead.
After adding two more to make the score 3-0 midway through the game, St. Bede allowed the Red Devils back into the game in the bottom of the fourth as they capitalized on a leadoff double by second baseman Zach Urbanski and a Bruin error to cut the lead to 3-2.
“I like to think we’re getting tougher and meaner. Hopefully we learned something throughout the year and the kids came out and put the ball in play against a real good pitcher and that was important for us,” John Bellino said.
Hall (19-7) had won two of the previous three meetings this season, but St. Bede has improved throughout the course of the season and came to play when the season really counts.
Hall left 14 runners on base as they continued to threaten to score but they couldn’t string together hits throughout the game.
“The last couple of weeks we just fizzled,” Keegan said. “We were limping into the postseason for sure. We made a little bit of contact today; unfortunately we couldn’t come up with the big hits in the middle of the game. Then we got it back within one and they answered with the three-run homer.”
John Bellino is a firm believer in playing your best ball at the end of the year and starts each season with the goal of making it to the regional championship no matter how his team performed throughout the year.
“It’s always my goal. It’s the state tournament and if you can get to the regional finals, you’ve accomplished something every time because now you give yourself a chance to win and move on,” John Bellino said.
Duttlinger led the Bruin offense going 3-3 with a three singles, a sacrifice and three runs scored while center fielder Taggart Venegas led the Hall attack, going 2-4 with two singles
Michael Bellino went five innings plus with one earned run and five strikeouts to pick up the win.
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