Vincent-led Knights one step closer to title

ALBION – Three runs in the top of the first inning is a good start for any team.

When you’re the Eisenhower Knights, and your starting pitcher has only allowed one earned run all season, it’s monumental.

On Thursday, a quick start by the Knights led to a 5-0 win over Rocky Grove in the District 10 Class A semifinal round at Northwestern High School.

Sophomore pitcher Casey Vincent scattered three hits over seven innings while racking up 14 strikeouts to earn the win and improve his record to 6-0 on the mound.

“I always tell the guys that when you come out and score runs, it puts pressure on the other team right away,” said first-year Eisenhower coach Cody Vincent. “When you’re able to play with a lead early, you can relax more. That’s huge.”

After Logan Bellardo singled to lead off the game and Vincent reached base on a bunt, junior Kyle Hunt came through with a two-RBI double to right-center field to put Ike up, 2-0. Shane Arford tacked on another, driving in Hunt with a single before Rocky Grove was able to escape the inning.

Three runs was more than enough for Vincent, who didn’t allow a hit until the bottom of the fourth. The Orioles put runners on second and third with one out in that inning before Vincent struck out the next two batters on six pitches to keep the shutout in tact.

“That’s just what he’s done all year. He does a good job working out of jams for us,” said Cody Vincent of his younger brother. “He was efficient today; he didn’t waste many pitches.”

With Vincent cruising, Bellardo did his part on the offensive end to add an insurance run in the fifth. After leading off with a double and advancing to third on a flyout, Bellardo took off for home on the pitch, narrowly beating the catchers tag to make it a 4-0 lead.

Bellardo came around to score again in the top of the seventh on Tab Berkhous’ RBI single for the game’s final run.

Bellardo finished the day 3-for-4 with three runs scored to lead Eisenhower at the plate and Rocky Grove’s Nate White went 2-for-3 in the loss.

With the win, the Knights (8-7 overall) advance to the District 10 Class A Championship game against Union City Monday at Slippery Rock University. The Bears were 7-4 winners over Lakeview in the other Class A semifinal. First pitch for the D10 title game at Jack Critchfield Park is scheduled for noon.

EISENHOWER (5): Bellardo, C, 4-3-3-0, Vincent, P, 4-1-1-0, Hunt, SS, 4-1-1-2, Berkhous, 1B, 2-0-1-1, Arford, CF, 3-0-1-1, Jackson, 3B, 0-0-0-0, Elmquist, DH, 2-0-0-0, Sanders, PR, 0-0-0-0, Harvey, RF, 2-0-0-0, Head, 2B, 3-0-1-0, Garris, LF, 3-0-1-0. Totals: 27-5-9-4.

ROCKY GROVE (0): Gannoe, SS, 3-0-0-0, Gill, LF, 2-0-0-0, White, P, 3-0-2-0, Updegrave, C, 3-0-0-0, Wilson, CF, 2-0-0-0, A. Kirwin, 3B, 2-0-0-0, J. Kirwin, RF, 3-0-0-0, Rodemoyer, 2B, 3-0-0-0, Swardfayer, 1B, 2-0-1-0. Totals: 23-0-3-0.

Eisenhower 300 010 1 – 5 9 0

Rocky Grove 000 000 0 – 0 3 0

2B- Bellardo (E), Hunt (E). WP- Vincent, LP- White.

IP-H-R-ER-BB-SO: E- Vincent (W) 7-3-0-0-3-14. R- White (L) 7-9-5-5-0-2.