Field of Dreams: Pitching leads Fort Frye past Belpre, 4-1

The pitcher’s mound at Marietta College’s Don Schaly Stadium has been toed by some phenomenal talents over the years.

When Fort Frye and Belpre locked in to a battle at the home of the Pioneers Tuesday night, the two teams’ hurlers did their best to honor that legacy. It was Fort Frye’s Derek Layton who out-dueled Belpre’s Mark Simoniette in a 4-1 Cadets victory.

Layton threw five innings, striking out three batters, walking two and allowing just one run to improve to a perfect 6-0 on the year.

“I thought Derek did a nice job,” said Fort Frye head coach Sonny Bidwell. “Got through five innings there and pitched pretty well. Then Brad (Martin) came in and did a nice job there at the end.”

Martin threw a scoreless final two innings for the Cadets, striking out two en route to picking up his third save of the season.

The left-handed Simoniette was solid in his own right, pitching a complete game and striking out four while scattering 10 hits.

“We’re just not putting runs on the scoreboard for our pitchers,” said Belpre head coach Terry Mullen. “We’re always pitching in that tight situation and it’s hard to pitch that way. You’ve got to be able to relax once in awhile.

“We can’t win with three hits. We just haven’t hit the ball all season.”

For Fort Frye, it was the bottom of the order that accounted for most of the damage as the No. 5-9 hitters collected seven of the team’s 10 hits. Terren Huck and Tanner Rice had two hits apiece.

“I thought the bottom of our order came up big tonight,” Bidwell said. “They hit the ball hard and hit it to the opposite field.”

It was the Cadets who put a dent in the scoreboard first, scoring two in the bottom of the second inning. Huck singled up the middle with one out to start the rally and was matched by Martin’s base knock back up the middle. After Drew Layton’s fielder’s choice ground ball to short put runners on the corners with two down, Rice poked a run-scoring single to right-center field to give the Cadets a 1-0 lead. It became a 2-0 lead later in the inning when Layton scored on Lang’s bases-loaded walk.

Fort Frye threatened to build on that lead in the fourth when Drew Layton singled and Rice doubled to put runners at second and third with one out. However, Simoniette rebounded by striking out the next two batters to escape the jam and keep it a two-run game.

Derek Layton’s one hiccup in the game occurred via a leadoff walk in the top of the fifth. Alex Perry began the inning with a base on balls and moved into scoring position on a wild pitch. Three batters later, Logan Plummer delivered an RBI-single to right to bring the Golden Eagles within a run, 2-1.

With Martin ready to come in to try and close it out, the Cadets added two key insurance runs in the bottom half of the fifth.

Isaac Klinger led off by bouncing a ball over the shortstop’s head. After stealing second base, Klinger came around to score on Derek Layton’s single to left to make it 3-1. Colten Shuster then reached first on a fielder’s choice and went to second on a wild pitch. Huck came through with a base hit to left to plate Shuster and give Fort Frye a three-run cushion.

With a little breathing room, Martin was able to keep Belpre off the scoreboard in the sixth and seventh to give the Cadets their 17th victory in 19 tries this season.

“Those are big RBIs and timely hitting,” Bidwell said. “When tournament time comes up, you need big hits at the right time.”

Bidwell added that playing under the lights at Schaly Stadium “was a big thrill for our kids. They loved it. We’re grateful that Marietta College gave us the opportunity.”