BELLBROOK — Hitting the ball hard all over the field, Bellbrook batters rarely came away from their at-bats unhappy with the contact they made.
During Tuesday’s Division II district semifinal game against Franklin, it felt as if almost every one of those hard hits found a glove instead of the ground.
Bellbrook remained close throughout the game, but never led as its season ended following a 3-1 defeat at home.
“We had good at-bats and I thought we hit a lot of balls hard,” head coach Jon Venters said. “We just hit it out at people. That is what it is sometimes.”
Franklin’s outfield was up to the task as they made seven putouts to compliment Jordan Hipsher’s nine strikeout performance on the mound in his complete game.
A play in the first inning seemingly set the tone for how things unfolded as Bellbrook looked to grab an early lead.
With Luke Benetis at second following a double, Brayden Hubbell smashed a long fly into the depths of centerfield. As it appeared Timmy Woods lost track of the ball’s flight, he made a backwards leaping, last-ditch effort to keep it from sailing over his head as it shockingly found his glove to end the inning.
“They played well, they made more plays than us and that’s why they won because they’re a good team and a scrappy, fighting team that has played that way all year,” Venters said.
Franklin grabbed the lead in the second as Hipsher helped his own cause with a single to right field that was misplayed and they scored another in the third on a similar play into left field.
Bellbrook got a runner into scoring position during three of the first five innings, but weren’t able to bring any home.
Getting runners to first and third to start the sixth, Franklin went down on strikes against Benetis with its next two batters. As he closed in on escaping the jam unscathed, it was Hipsher who again did damage as he fought off several pitches and ended up hitting a soft fly to shallow left to add to the lead.
Blake Oberding’s bloop single got the Golden Eagles on the board and put the tying run at first in the bottom half of the inning, but Hipsher induced a roller to get out of the inning and went on to sit down the side in order to close the game out in the seventh.
Bellbrook’s eight seniors won 55 games over three seasons and ended their careers with consecutive SWBL titles.
“It doesn’t seem like four years ago when COVID ripped away their freshman year,” Venters said. “They found ways to grow together as a team, played for each other and became a tight knit group and that’s why this makes it hard, because these guys were fun to play with like a family.”
Unfortunately while baseball was kind to them throughout their careers, as Venters said, Tuesday’s season ending loss also could be summed up by the same word. Baseball.
Contact Steven Wright at 937-502-4498 and follow on Twitter @Steven_Wright_.