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Belmont 12s fall late in state opener

by Jeff Lajoie
Sports Reporter

Manager Brett Sottak and the Belmont 12U All-Stars dropped their opening round game at the state tournament on Saturday morning. Jeff Lajoie. (click for larger version)
July 07, 2014
LANCASTER Elation turned to despair in the matter of an inning for the Belmont 12U All-Stars on Saturday.

After scoring four runs to take its first lead of the game in the bottom of the fifth inning, Belmont turned around and allowed 12 runs in the top of the sixth inning to drop a 15-4 decision to Suncook Valley in the opening game of the double elimination Cal Ripken 12U State Tournament.

"Very disappointing," admitted Belmont manager Brett Sottak. "It was a game we could have won and it ended up a blow out. One bad inning killed us."

The loss dropped Belmont into the elimination bracket, one loss away from being ousted from the tourney. Full coverage of the rest of the state tournament, which was to be played after deadline earlier this week, will be available in next week's Winnisquam Echo.

Belmont trailed 3-0 entering the bottom of the fifth, desperate to get something going offensively. With one out, Suncook Valley's pitcher helped Sottak's club back into the game, as he walked four straight batters (Dylan Greer, Zack Gilbert, Griffin Embree and Connor Young) to cut the deficit to 3-1. With two outs, Austin Garrett came through with a big hit, tying the game at 3-3 with a two-run single up the middle. Aaron Simonds kept the momentum going, as he ripped another single to put Belmont ahead for the first time all day, 4-3.

"It was good to see that we definitely are good enough to compete in this tournament," Sottak said.

Belmont couldn't hold Suncook Valley off in the sixth inning however, as the squad posted a rally with a single, a walk, an infield error and another walk. Sottak pulled Embree at that point after another outstanding outing, but the floodgates opened from there. All told, Suncook Valley scored 12 times in the top of the sixth, pulling ahead 15-4 and holding on for the victory to advance in the winner's bracket.

Garrett and Simonds both went 2-for-3 at the plate for Belmont, while Nate Sottak added the team's only other hit on the morning.

"We walked six times but did not swing the bats all that well," Sottak said. "They had a good pitcher but no better than what we've seen before."

Embree struck out 11 on the afternoon, walking two (both in the sixth inning) while allowing five hits and four earned runs. He struck out four batters in the third inning, as Suncook had a batter reach base on a dropped third strike.

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