Belpre baseball ousted by top-ranked Whiteoak

JORDAN HOLLAND The Marietta Times Belpre's Bailey Sprague throws a pitch during the first inning of Tuesday's Division IV district semifinal baseball game against Whiteoak at VA Memorial Stadium in Chillicothe.

CHILLICOTHE — Control issues on the mound doomed Belpre in a 12-3 loss to Whiteoak, the top-ranked team in Division IV, in a district semifinal Tuesday at VA Memorial Stadium.

Senior right-hander Bailey Sprague got the start for the Golden Eagles, who finished the 2018 season 13-13. Sprague pitched around a two-out walk to record a scoreless opening frame, but everything unraveled in the second.

Two walks, an error and a stolen base put runners on second and third with one out before Casey Nace’s single up the middle plated the first run. After another walk, Ryan Roberts cleared the bases with a two-run triple to left-center to make it 3-0.

Traeten Hamilton followed with another triple, this one to right, to make it 4-0, and that was it for Sprague.

The command struggles briefly continued as lefty Nick Godfrey came in to pitch — Chase Carraher drew a walk with Hamilton coming in to score on the fourth ball, a wild pitch.

Belpre got on the board with a run in the top of the fourth inning.

Jesse Collins opened the frame with a triple to dead center before coming in to score on an error when Bailey Sprague’s grounder to third base was booted. A second error on Isaac Tullius’ grounder to short put runners on the corners with no outs, but starter Evan Brill got a popout and two strikeouts to avoid further damage.

Brill went five innings to earn the win for the Wildcats. He struck out five and walked two before giving way to the bullpen. Hamilton struck out the side in the sixth before Mason Lehr followed suit and fanned all three batters he faced in the seventh.

Whiteoak added on in the bottom-half of the fourth thanks to Carraher’s two-run base hit to right field. Carraher then stole second and advanced to third and home on separate wild pitches to make it 8-1.

Belpre’s Jacob Davis hit the fourth triple of the game to bring in Cole Knotts, and Davis scored when Jesse Collins hit a sacrifice fly to right, cutting Whiteoak’s lead to 8-3.

Whiteoak tallied another run on a wild pitch in the fifth before plating three in the sixth to get to the final score. Lehr had an RBI double in the sixth.

Sprague worked 1 2-3 innings with four walks in the loss. Godfrey pitched 4 1-3 innings of relief, walking five and punching out four.

The Wildcats improved to 25-1 with their only loss coming Reedsville Eastern midway through the season.

It will be an all-Wildcats district final at 7:30 p.m. today back in Chillicothe as Whiteoak will play Waterford, a 3-1 winner over Green Tuesday.

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