Formula works for Bellbrook in no-hitter at Carroll


DAYTON — Bellbrook head coach Jon Venters has the belief the pitching staff and defensive play which can lead to a special season is in place.

The formula of getting the best out of those two areas of baseball worked to near perfection in the team’s first game back in Ohio on Tuesday as the Golden Eagles threw a combined no-hitter at Carroll in an 11-0 win.

“We have a great staff,” Venters said. “Between Bennett LaPalm, Luke Benetis, Luke Driskell coming back, Braden Hubbell coming out of the bullpen, it’s deep. And we still got a couple of guys fully coming back from injury. We’re going to rely a lot on them.”

Unmentioned in the moment but certainly not forgotten was Tuesday’s starter, Ben Hunt, who pitched the first four innings. Overcoming a bases loaded situation in the first by starting a 1-2-3 double play, he gathered his control and shut down the Patriots while striking out three.

“I felt like I had a lot more control of everything,” Hunt said in comparison to his first start of the season during the team’s trip in Florida. “I changed my leg kick and was coming toward home plate more. I mean, I still hit quite a few batters, which was kind of a problem down there too.”

Driskell made his first appearance on the mound in nearly two years with a 14-pitch outing to secure the run-ruled victory.

Over the first five games of the 2023 campaign, Bellbrook tested itself in Florida against several other top Ohio teams which made the trip to warmer weather and concluded the trip by playing Sylvania Northview, the reigning Division I state champions.

Not all of the results went the way the Golden Eagles would have preferred after going 2-3, but the team is in agreement playing high-level competition only sharpened their skills.

“There was very good competition down there,” Brayden Hubbell said, who went 2-for-2 with a two-run home run and five RBI during Tuesday’s win at Carroll. “We faced adversity down there and I think it’s gonna make us a lot better baseball team back up here.”

Venters said he liked the approach from his players to this games and thinks the way Tuesday’s game unfolded shows where adjustments have already been made.

Bellbrook’s staff ranked near or at the top of most statistical categories within the SWBL last season.

LaPalm, a University of Dayton commit, has the reigns of being the top starter. The southpaw has already struck out more than half of the batters he has faced in six innings of work in 2023 after producing 71 in 40 2/3 innings a year ago. Benetis backs him up with a 2.21 ERA in 31 2/3 innings while Driskell seems to be an x-factor.

Their defense is up to six double plays turned with two on Tuesday and Venters felt it was a clean game from that group.

He said practices have been structured to stress those two areas of the game so the staff throws strikes and gets help from the guys playing behind them.

Reaching double figures on the scoreboard certainly helps win games as well, but the pieces appear to be in the place away from the plate to keep the offense loose enough to keep wins piling up.

“We’ve got a lot of guys that have some special arms that I think are going to help us,” Venters said. “Then putting the defense in place, it could be exciting this year.”

Contact Steven Wright at 937-502-4498 and follow on Twitter @Steven_Wright_.

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