STEUBENVILLE - You take these OVAC championships anyway you can get them.
Bellaire's Big Reds struck out 11 times and managed no more than five singles against Buckeye Trail southpaw Zach Roe in Saturday's OVAC 3A title game.
Still, John Patro-ne's ballclub returned home with the big trophy following a 7-0 blanking of self-destructive Buckeye Trail at Vaccaro Field.
Bellaire’s Nick McMahon tossed a three-hitter against Buckeye Trail in Saturday’s OVAC Class 3A baseball title game.
Bellaire has made steady progress during Patrone's four-season tenure, culminating with Saturday's achievement.
"Yes, we definitely set our goals high this season," the Reds' skipper said.
"We didn't hit particularly well (Saturday) and have been inconsistent in that area at times. But we've won a few games with pitching and defense."
Saturday's victory was a dramatic case in point. Senior Nick McMahon permitted no more than three hits in a solid route-going performance. The Reds' right-hander struck out four and issued three walks.
"Nick's been coming on strong and he showed that (Saturday)," Patrone said. "I thought he really mixed his pitches well."
McMahon admitted the game plan was simple.
"Just throw strikes and let the guys behind me make plays," he said. "This feels good. It's been a while."
He was referring to the last time a Bellaire team celebrated an OVAC baseball crown.
"Not since 1993, we believe," Patrone said. "We've been building (for this) and the kids got it done. This (trophy) is for them, our coaches and the entire school."
For Mike Neuhart's Warriors, Saturday's championship appearance was an unmitigated disaster. Though Roe pitched well enough to win, his teammates were guilty of an unimaginable 10 fielding errors. Bellaire, in turn, played flawless defense.
"We took advantage of a few things but we also wanted to be aggressive on the bases," Patrone added.
In addition to their misplays in the field, Trail, in an all-day, catch-up mode, had three runners gunned down attempting to steal by Bellaire sophomore catcher Wyatt Back.
Roe retired Bellaire's first two batters in the first before the wheels fell off. McMahon drew a walk and Dalton Conroy followed with a base hit. A pair of throwing errors allowed both runners to score.
Designated hitter Tyler West also induced a free pass, swiped both second and third base, then scored on Trail's third error of the inning.
It was more of the same for Bellaire in the third. McMahon reached on a misplay. West's sacrifice bunt went for an infield single. When left fielder Bralen Snell's ground ball was booted, McMahon and West raced home for a 5-0 score.
The Big Reds (15-8) tacked on two more in the sixth. Second baseman Nick Patrone walked and advanced when senior center fielder Manny Ray rapped an opposite-field single. Both Patrone and Ray later come home via two more Warrior gaffes.
West was the game's lone multi-hitter, producing two singles. Snell reached base four times. Zack Roe, Jessi Roe and Cody Burkhart accounted for Trail's three hits.