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Opener kind as Raiders hold off PM, 10-9

by Jeff Lajoie
Sports Reporter

Freshman shortstop Corey Derosier (11) runs the ball back in while second baseman Jason Taylor looks on during Belmont's 10-9 win at Bryant Field on April 14. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
April 21, 2014
BELMONT It certainly wasn't easy, but the Belmont High School baseball team took a solid first step in putting the misery of last season behind it in the season opener.

The Red Raiders overcame a 4-1 deficit, and the offense exploded for 10 runs in a 10-9 victory over visiting Prospect Mountain at Bryant Field on April 14.

"Give the guys credit, part of what we've been talking about is that this is a new year, let's put last year behind us," said BHS coach Matt LeBlanc. "They never gave up today. Even down 4-1, they stayed positive, they were still up in the dugout. That's what we need this season."

Belmont trailed 4-1 after PM pushed three runs across in the top of the third inning against senior lefty Ryan Pluskis. But second baseman Jason Taylor got the rally started with a one out single in the bottom of the third, and he scored when left fielder Brent Minery drilled a bomb to right centerfield for a triple to cut the deficit to 4-2. Pluskis would draw Belmont closer with an RBI groundout, making it 4-3 after three innings.

The Timberwolves tacked on a run to make it 5-3 in the fourth, but the Raiders put together yet another rally this time with two outs in the bottom of the inning. Trevor Romagnoli drew a walk to get things going, and Chris Marden doubled to put men at second and third. A wild pitch allowed pinch runner Colby Leroux to scamper home, and when the throw back to the plate got away, Marden followed and also touched the plate to make it 5-5 in the blink of an eye.

"We're going to have to make people make plays this year," said LeBlanc of the aggressive base running. "More often than not, when you put the pressure on defenses, good things are going to happen."

With sophomore Caleb Drouin getting the job done on the mound in relief during the middle innings, Belmont continued its momentum in the fifth inning. Minery singled to lead off, and he'd eventually score the go-ahead run when Drouin reached on a fielder's choice for a 6-5 advantage. Third baseman Joey Levesque scored later in the frame when Curtis McLelland reached on an error, and the Raiders led 7-5 entering the sixth inning.

"The've hit the ball really well in the preseason and in our scrimmages," said LeBlanc of his team's offensive prowess. "They were aggressive today. We didn't see many pitches but the guys pulled the trigger with good results."

The squad would tack on three more runs in the bottom of the sixth, and they would wind up needing every single of them. Marden led off with a single, his second hit of the afternoon, and Taylor reached on an error. After moving up a base, both runners would score when Minery dropped in a single to make it a 9-5 game. He would score on a wild pitch, and Belmont seemed very much in command entering the seventh with a 10-5 lead.

But PM woke up just in time to make it a game in its final at bat. The visitors loaded the bases with no outs, and Brian Borelli drove in a pair with a single for a 10-7 contest. That chased Drouin from the game, and Taylor came on to try and get three outs to nail down the save.

The senior got a strikeout before allowing a two-run single to Christian Parenteau that made it 10-9. But the right-hander settled in nicely, and he picked up his second K of the inning to move one out closer to the save. McLelland finished things off from behind the plate, as he gunned down a PM runner trying to steal second base, with shortstop Corey Derosier applying the tag to enable the Raiders to open the season on a high note.

Minery led the offense with three hits, three RBI and three runs scored, while Levesque, Tayor and Marden all added a pair of hits for Belmont. The Raiders put the ball in play all afternoon long, as PM pitching finished with just one strikeout in the loss.

"We talk about the importance of depth," began LeBlanc. "A kid like Chris Marden for example. He's a freshman who gets a call up just before the season and all of a sudden he gets a start and finishes with two hits. Obviously we're going to go through some growing pains with this young team experience-wise, but I'm looking forward to seeing what they can do this season."

Drouin finished with the win on the mound, as he went three innings while striking out three and walking three. Pluskis went three-plus innings to start the game, and he walked one while allowing four runs (two earned). PM used four pitchers on the day, and the two teams were slated for a rematch after deadline this Tuesday (April 22) in Alton.

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