Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
CHILLICOTHE — Circleville coach Brian Bigam admitted that in his appearances during the team’s scrimmages this spring, Jake Bell hasn’t pitched like he’s capable of doing so.
But he followed that statement up by discussing the sensational job he did on Tuesday.
In a tight contest, Bell entered the ballgame in the bottom of the sixth and inherited two base runners. But he got the Tigers out of the jam by striking out the side and preserving a lead.
That was the turning point in a 6-4 win over Hillsboro — the Tigers’ first win this season.
“I thought the two big positives were Alex Castro and Jake Bell in the situations in which they came into the game and in some spots with runners in scoring position, they did a good job getting us out of jams. They allowed us to maintain the lead. That’s especially true with Jake. [Hillsboro’s] one and three-hole hitters are extremely good. He came in and they didn’t score.”
Bell also led Circleville’s offense, going 2-for-2 with two runs and two RBIs. Put simply, when the Tigers (1-1) needed him the most, Bell stepped up to the plate … no pun intended.
“Jake is one of my returners. I was happy to see that out of him tonight,” Bigam said. “He’s a guy that’s won games for me and he’s grinded through it. He’s not the most vocal guy but he’s going to lead by example. He’s a coach’s dream and he does everything that you ask of him. But tonight was good to see. He hasn’t pitched like that yet.”
Both teams got on the board in their first at-bats.
After Scottie Moats led off with a single right back up the gut, he advanced to second and scored on an RBI single from Bell. But Hillsboro struck back with an RBI triple off the bat of Hunter Green, which plated Quintin Captain to force a 1-1 tie.
In the bottom of the second, the Indians (2-1) took their first lead of the night at 2-1 when Tanner Warner, who had drawn a walk before stealing second, scored on a throwing error.
But, in the top of the third, Circleville took the lead for good.
After Adam Cunnigham singled, Evan Justice drew a base on balls. Bell then singled again, scoring Cunnigham and forcing a 2-2 tie. Later, Max Brooks walked to load the bases before Wyatt Allison was hit by a pitch to give the Tigers a 3-2 edge.
Nick Burns then walked, ultimately making it a 4-2 tally headed to the bottom half of the inning.
In the top of the fourth, Brooks logged an RBI single to score Bell and push the lead to 5-2. But Hillsboro wasn’t going away. The Indians answered with two runs in the bottom half, thanks to an RBI triple from Ryan Scott and an RBI single from Captain, cutting the deficit to 5-4.
But from that point on, Castro and Bell shut Hillsboro’s offense down. The duo combined to toss 3 ⅓ innings of two-hit baseball while striking out five and hanging zeroes.
Circleville added an insurance run in the top of the seventh, coming off an RBI single from Wyatt Thatcher that scored Brooks, and that was all she wrote.
“Honestly, I feel fortunate to get away with one. We’re fortunate because you can’t put that many people on base for free or strike out that many times,” Bigam said. “We’re happy to get out of here with a win but we have to start putting the ball in play and giving ourselves more of a chance.”
Brooks finished 2-for-3 with a run and an RBI while Cunningham also had two hits, going 2-for-5 with a run. Allison, Burns and Thatcher all logged an RBI each.
For Hillsboro, Scott finished 2-for-4 with a triple, a run and an RBI while Green went 1-for-2 with a triple and an RBI. Captain also helped out, going 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run.
Hillsboro gets back to action on Wednesday, hosting Wilmington, while Circleville is back at VA Memorial Stadium this evening for a contest against Miami Trace.
“That’s a quality Hillsboro team. We’ll take the win and we’ll learn from it,” Bigam said. “When you’re in a tight game late, and we expect to be in games, we’ve got 10-plus guys who haven’t been in a varsity game. You hope those guys learn from this and establish it later. But it was nice to see us maintain the lead tonight, battle and pull it out.”