BELDING — The Belding Redskins and Sparta Spartans are evenly matched on the baseball field.
Meeting for the third time in three days, the Spartans pieced together some timely hits while silencing the Redskins’ bats in a 4-2 O-K Blue victory on Thursday night.
Sparta starter Michael Flannery pitched a gem. He allowed just one hit in 6 1-3 innings of work and two runs.
“Mike Flannery is not a traditional starter, but we’ve run into a bunch of games and needed him,” Sparta coach Kyle Hall said. “He kept the ball low, kept control of his pitches and we came up with some timely hits.”
Sparta scored a run in the third inning. Belding tied the score in the fourth to tie the game at one.
Belding coach Michael Ostrander thought his team played a little flat against Sparta.
“I’m disappointed we came out in a conference game a little flat,” he said. “Our pitching has kept us in games all year long. Unfortunately, we aren’t getting the bat going the way we need to. It will change and it will get better. Our expectations are higher.”
Sparta came back in the top of the fifth with two runs to take a 3-1 lead.
“Because of the weather and field conditions we tried to play a little small ball,” Hall said. “We tried to bunt a few runs in. It was a good team effort and everybody pitched in. I’m very pleased with the effort tonight.”
An insurance run was added by the Spartans in the top of the seventh inning for a 4-1 advantage.
Ron VanDyke led the bottom half of the seventh off with a walk for the Redskins. VanDyke stole second base and scored on a ground ball error at second base. The threat ended with a flyout to shallow left field.
“I think our guys expected to win. This is a team we feel like we should play with,” Ostrander said. “If we play well we should win.”
Ostrander is hoping his team’s hitting is turning around. After not hitting early in the season, the team is connecting, but right at the opposition now.
“The past couple of games we have actually started hitting the ball better,” Ostrander said. “We are hitting it at people right now. They will drop eventually.”
Jacob Spencer took the loss. He allowed three runs in five innings of work.
“Jacob did a nice job tonight. He threw a lot of strikes and didn’t get in trouble with free passes,” Ostrander said. “We gave up some errors that led to runs, but I’m pleased with his effort.”
Todd Haller had Belding’s lone hit. VanDyke and Cody Saliers scored runs.
The Redskins are now 5-4 overall and 2-4 in the league.
Belding has played played five games in three days and will play two more on Saturday at the Chippewa Hill Invitational. Belding will open with Chip Hills and then face either Leroy Pine River or Traverse City West.