Helton prevails for East
He may have walked three batters and beaned three more, but East Rutherford’s Brock Helton only allowed three hits on the night in a 5-1 win over Chase (2-19, 1-11 SMAC) to close out the conference season for each team Thursday night at East Rutherford.
“[Helton’s control] has been an issue,” East head coach Bobby Reynolds said of his senior pitcher. “If we could fix it we would but you play with the cards your dealt and we play with the players we got ... I’d rather not have the headache but he’s one the only bullets we got.”
Aaron Ballinger had a great outing to end the season as he allowed just four hits and struck out four in a losing effort.
“[Ballinger] was in command with all his pitches and they still hit it,” Chase head coach Matt Tipton said. “Three of the runs they scored they manufactured. I would rather them earn those three than us give them away.”
“We’ve got combined six hits this week so we need to swing a little better,” Reynolds added. “Hitting has been our nemesis all year. It didn’t beat us tonight and we were able to scratch out a few runs.”
James Hunt led off the second inning for the Cavs (14-8, 7-5 SMAC) with a double to straight-away center field and moved to third on the first pitch to Jordan Strickland.
Strickland came through with a fielder’s choice to first base scoring Hunt and giving East a 1-0 advantage but the scoring stopped there.
An error and two walks put Helton in some trouble loading the bases with two out in the top of the third, but he got Caleb Lancaster to fly out to left ending the threat.
A walk and two base hits loaded the bags for East to open the third inning allowing Helton to score Brandon Wellmon on a sacrifice fly to right field. Strickland followed suit two batters later with a sac fly of his own for his second RBI of the contest and East’s third run of the night.
Chase loaded the bases themselves in the top of the fourth with one out, but East Rutherford’s Dylan “Squirrel” Champion made the most of his senior night making a catch in right field for the second out and gunning out Chase’s Taylor Hardin at the plate to complete an inning-ending double play keeping the Trojans off the board.
“I was trying to make something happen,” Tipton said on his decision to send the runner. “[Champion] just made a good throw.”
Chase starter Aaron Ballinger hurt himself in the fifth inning balking home a run sending East up 4-0.
Kyle Bingham broke up Helton no-hit effort in the sixth inning with a sharp single up the middle but the Cavs turned a double play to end the inning and preserve the 4-0 lead.
East added a run in the sixth and Helton shut down the Trojans in the seventh thanks to a wild 6-2-4 that included two rundowns. Josh Epley knocked in the only run of the night with an RBI single but that’s all the Trojans could score as the Cavaliers iced the 5-1 win.
Chase season came to a close while the Cavaliers welcome Crest on Monday to close the regular season. First pitch is set for 7 p.m.