BELPRE — It was a long bus ride from Franklin Furnace to Belpre’s Civitan Park on Thursday for the Green Bobcats, but an even longer afternoon as for the game itself.
That’s because Belpre, the eighth-seeded squad in the Southeast District Division IV tournament, belted two first-inning home runs as part of 14 total hits —and ended the Bobcats’ campaign with a 13-2 six-inning defeat in the sectional championship tilt.
The ninth-seeded Bobcats scored single runs in the fourth and sixth stanzas, but the Golden Eagles erupted early with three runs in the first followed by three more in the third —sandwiched around and between single markers second and fifth innings.
With five runs in the sixth, and eight Belpre batters at the plate, the Golden Eagles ended the matchup with the 10-run mercy rule.
Belpre raised its record to 14-12 and, more importantly, makes the trip to Scioto County on Tuesday for a Division IV district semifinal against 21-0 and top-seeded Notre Dame.
The ninth-seeded Bobcats, conversely, conclude their season at 9-15.
Green’s game was doomed from the start, as Belpre leadoff hitter Dekota Lemon hit a solo home run for a 1-0 lead.
Alyssa Hutchinson, who pitched for the Golden Eagles and went the distance with only 74 total pitches and 53 strikes, helped her cause at the plate on the next at-bat —before Belpre sophomore Kaitlen Bush crushed a two-run home run to make it 3-0.
That would be all the runs the Golden Eagles even needed for the win, as Bush —who was a triple shy of the cycle —went 3-for-4 with four runs batted in alongside Emma Hodgson.
Hutchinson held the Bobcats scoreless, and even hitless, until the fourth — as she retired the opening 11 Bobcats she saw.
Kasey Kimbler and Kame Sweeney doubled back-to-back with two outs, then Kailyn Neal singled to put runners on the corners.
But Hutchinson retired the next four Green batters, before Emily Brady in the sixth stanza doubled, stole second and scored on another two-bagger by Kimbler.
Sweeney singled again for runners on the corners once more, but Hutchinson sat down the final two Bobcats to end Green’s season.
Hutchinson had four strikeouts, retiring the Bobcats in innings one, two, three and finally five.
It was the final game for five Green seniors —Sweeney, Ava Jenkins, Kaylee Blankenship, Charli Blevins and Makenzie Carver.
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