BELPRE - Offense and pitching went hand-in-hand as the Belpre baseball and softball teams both advanced in the sectional semifinals during games played at Civitan Park on Wednesday afternoon.
Behind 15 strikeouts and a 3-for-4 effort at the plate from Drew Nestor, the Golden Eagles' baseball program defeated the Raiders from River Valley, 8-2. Belpre improves to 9-13 and advances to Saturday's Ohio Division III sectional final at Alexander. Game time is 11 a.m.
"We scrimmaged Alexander earlier this season - they have a pretty good ballclub, but I talked to a few coaches and they've lost their last four in a row, so hopefully we can get them when they not playing as well," Belpre baseball coach Terry Mullen said.
KERRY PATRICK Special to The Times
Belpre lefty Drew Nestor, center, has a mound conference with Golden Eagles’ skipper Terry Mullen, left, and catch Wes Hatfield, right, during sectional baseball action at Civitan Park Wednesday.
Earlier on Wednesday, Belpre softball made quick work of Miller and defeated the Falcons 14-0 in five innings as pitcher Natalie Perry struck out seven and allowed just one hit. Next up for the 7-14 Golden Eagles is Saturday's Ohio Division IV sectional final. At 11 a.m. they travel to Waterford - the same Wildcat unit which swept two meetings during the regular season.
"We have to hit the ball better against them," Belpre softball coach Ken Cox said. "In a game like today, this is a good warm-up and maybe gives confidence to some of our kids who have been struggling."
Ohio Division III sectional semifinal
At Civitan Park, Belpre
Belpre 8, River Valley 2
River Valley 000 010 1 - 2 3 3
Belpre 131 030 x - 8 10 2
WP: Drew Nestor 7IP 3H 2R 1ER 4BB 15SO
LP: Timmy Kemper 1.2IP 5H 4R 4ER 2BB 0SO
Chris Clemente 4.1IP 5H 4R 2ER 1BB 2SO
Leading hitters: River Valley Chris Clemente 1-1, 2B, 2 runs; Zach Crowe 1-3, RBI. Belpre - Matt Johnson 1-1, run, RBI; Wes Hatfield 2-2, run, 2B; Jesse Whittington 1-3, 2 runs; Drew Nestor 3-4, 2B, run, 3 RBIs; Ryan Epperly RBI; Hayden Plummer 2-3, run, RBI; D.J. Leftwich 1-3, run; Brennen Ferrell 1-3, RBI.
Records: River Valley 5-19; Belpre 9-13
Next game: Ohio Division III sectional final Belpre at Alexander, 11 a.m. Saturday
Ohio Division IV sectional semifinal
At Civitan Park, Belpre
Belpre 14, Miller 0 (5 innings)
Miller 000 00 - 0 1 1
Belpre 473 0x - 14 6 2
WP: Natalie Perry 5IP 1H 0R 0ER 0BB 7SO
LP: Sarah West
Leading hitters: Belpre - Arielle Gramkow 1-1, 3 runs; Natalie Perry 1-1, 3 runs, RBI; Kelsey Pratt 2-2, RBI; Destiny Bell 2 RBIs; Kaity Hager 1-2; Stephanie Boso 1-1, 2 RBIs.
Records: Belpre 7-14 (7-9 TVC Hocking); Miller 0-20 (0-16 TVC Hocking)
Next game: Ohio Division IV sectional semifinal - Belpre at Waterford, 11 a.m. Saturday
Nestor was on the mark from the opening pitch and struck out 10 River Valley hitters in the first four innings. The southpaw carried a no-hitter for 4 2/3 innings before Cole Bostic reached safely on an infield single. However, by that point Belpre had moved in front 5-0.
River Valley scored once in the top half of the fifth before Belpre answered with three runs in the bottom half of the inning. Nestor contributed an RBI double, while Hayden Plummer added a run-scoring single.
In the seventh inning, the first three River Valley hitters reached base and one run scored before Nestor put out the fire by retiring the final three batters he faced, including two on strikeouts.
Nestor's career high in punchouts was 17 earlier this season in a nine-inning contest against Eastern.
"I could locate my fastball pretty well today," Nestor said. "They couldn't catch up to it and when I threw my curve ball they were just way out on their front foot. My catcher (Wes Hatfield) did a good job calling the right pitches and keeping them off track."
Belpre's game with Miller served a dual-purpose. Not only was a berth in the sectional final at stake, but also a win in the Tri-Valley Conference's Hocking Division.
Belpre made sure early the Falcons (0-20) would not figure out a way to capture their first win of the season as the Golden Eagles plated four runs in the first inning and seven more in the second inning.
The only hit allowed by Perry occurred in the third inning. The senior did not walk a batter.
"I had good command and good location, and I didn't even throw a single change-up all night," Perry said.
Offensively, Perry scored three times and had one RBI, while Kelsey Pratt was 2-for-2 with an RBI.