Cadets advance: Fort tops Bellaire 8-2 in sectional tournament tilt

CAMBRIDGE – The role of a leadoff hitter in the game of baseball is to get on base and set the table for the hitters to follow.

Fort Frye’s leadoff hitter Spencer Lang simply put on a clinic Tuesday night as he led the Cadets to an 8-2 victory over the Bellaire Big Reds in a sectional tournament title tilt at Don Coss Field in Cambridge.

The Cadet center fielder reached base on all four trips to the plate with three singles and a walk, swiped four bases, and scored four times.

“Spencer (Lang) came to play and had a big night for us tonight,” said Fort Frye head coach Sonny Bidwell. “He’s a big part of our offense and when he gets on base, we roll pretty well.”

After Cadet starting pitcher Casey Hall retired the Big Reds in order in the top of the first, the Cadets scored an unearned run in the bottom half thanks to a pair of errors by the Bellaire defense.

Lang led off the inning with a single, stole second and moved to third when Hall’s ground ball to shortstop was booted by Nathan Steele.

Hall attempted to steal second and when the throw from Bellaire catcher Wyatt Back went into center field, Lang scampered home with the first Cadet run of the game.

Bellaire quickly tied things up in the top of the second as Hunter Westlake led off with a double over Lang’s head in center field and moved to third on a single by right fielder Dalton Conroy.

One out later Tyler Ramsay singled to score Westlake but the Cadet defense threw out Conroy trying to advance to third to avoid any further damage.

The Cadets scored three times in the bottom of the third to break the tie and take the lead for good.

Once again it was Lang who got things started as he singled to left, stole second and scored on a double off the bat of his brother Chandler that Ramsay appeared to lose in the sun.

It looked like Bellaire starting pitcher Nick Patrone might be able to get out of the inning with just one run scoring when he retired Derek Layton and Caden Brooker on ground outs, but Cadet second baseman Colton Shuster delivered a clutch two-out single to make it a 4-1 game.

Bellaire got one of those runs back in the top of the fourth when Westlake singled, stole second and scored on the lone error committed by the Fort Frye defense in the game to trim the lead to 4-2.

The Fort scored a pair of runs in a rather unconventional way in their half of the fourth.

Isaac Klinger led off the inning with a walk but was thrown out at third on Spencer Lang’s single to left.

After Spencer stole second once again, Chandler drew a walk and both Lang’s moved into scoring position on a Big Red wild pitch.

The Cadets then perfectly executed a suicide squeeze as Hall laid down a beautiful bunt and Chandler never broke stride rounding third to follow Spencer home on a rare two-run sacrifice bunt to make it a 6-2 game.

The Fort added single runs in the fifth and sixth innings and Hall took care of things from there as the Cadet senior right hander held the Big Reds in check the rest of the way.

“I thought Casey Hall did a tremendous job on the mound,” said Bidwell of Hall who allowed just one earned run and fanned four to gain the complete game victory. “He was around the plate and kept them off balance for most of the game.”

Hall credited his ability to throw strikes as well as his teammates’ ability to play great defense as keys to the victory.

“I was able to throw strikes and trust my defense behind me,” said Hall, who also helped himself at the plate with a single and a pair of runs batted in. “We didn’t know what to expect but I thought we did a great job and came up here ready to play.”

The Cadets pounded out 11 base hits in the game and six of the eight runs scored came from the Lang brothers at the top of the Fort line up.

“As a lead off hitter I try to get on base every time and tonight I was able to do that,” said Spencer, who is closing in on 40 stolen bases on the season in just the 24th game the Cadets have played.

“Casey (Hall) pitched a really good game and we played pretty good behind him in the field.”

Bellaire’s season comes to a close with a 12-15 record while Bidwell’s Cadets improved to 16-8 with the win and will now advance to the district semi-final game Friday night against the winner of the St. Clairsville versus Monroe Central game scheduled to be played today in Cambridge.

“We still have a few things to work on fundamentally,” said Bidwell. “Overall though it was a really good night for the Cadets and we just have to continue to work hard.”