BELMONT, Mass. -- There is a distinct air of confidence surrounding the Belmont Hill baseball team. And why not?
In its first 11 games this season, Belmont Hill has yet to taste defeat. Its latest triumph coming Thursday afternoon after jumping out to an early advantage against ISL foe Lawrence Academy before settling for a 7-1 victory at Edward M. Gallagher Field.
"It is a credit to these kids because all of them work hard," BH head coach Mike Grant said. "We give them some simple things to do and they all work really hard at the game. We try to instill a simple approach at the plate but it is one they follow. I think we are a team that believes in itself without being arrogant."
BH (11-0) has won the past two ISL titles, co-sharing it with Governor's Academy last year. In 2011, the Spartans were anointed league champs.
When you take into consideration the way BH is currently playing, you would be hard-pressed to rule out a third consecutive league crown. Against the Spartans (4-7), BH banged out out 10 hits with the brunt of its damage coming in the first three innings against LA starter Rich Cardillo. The junior righty ran into trouble in the opening frame and things seemed to escalate from there.
In the first, Cardillo issued back-to-back singles to Harold Roberson and Charles McConnell putting runners at the corners. A Danny Kelly ground out produced BH's first run. After a Ben Wanger walk, Jack Wilhoite followed by smashing a two-run double to deep straightaway centerfield to make it 3-0.
"Throughout our batting order we have confidence in each and every one of us," said Wilhoite, a junior. "We know that we are going to play our best every game. We know it is hard to compete with us when we are on the top of our game. We're a very close-knit group and we feel we are the best team in the league so we try to play like it. Hopefully we can keep it rolling for the rest of the season."
McConnell (2 hits) would make it a four-run contest one inning with an RBI double to right-centerfield. In the bottom of the third, BH plated a couple more. Wilhoite (2 hits) singled to open the frame. One out later, Austin Masel roped a single to left and took second on the throw home as Wilhoite was held up at third. Eric Rolfs drove in both runners with another single and increase BH's advantage to 6-0. Rolfs, a junior, also finished with two hits on the afternoon.
"That team swings the bats very well and we are a very young team (18 underclassmen)," Spartans head coach Chris Margraf said. "What I love about our group is that our future is bright. Games like this, when you get down early, it can be easy to just fade out but I felt we still gave ourselves a chance. I have the utmost respect in the way Mike coaches. They run the bases very well and right now we don't run the bases that well and obviously they hit the ball better than we do right now."
LA was having a difficult time trying to get its offense kick-started. Right-handed pitcher AJ Difillippo was doing his part on the mound, holding the Spartans in check over the first three innings while scattering just three hits. But in the fourth, LA finally got to the sophomore for a run when Sean Collins singled home Cardillo, who was hit by a pitch.
BH added another run in the bottom of the inning. Cardillo had retired the first two batters before issuing a walk to Kelly. The senior, who will play at Tufts University next season, stole second and came around to score moments later on Wanger's double down the left field line. Difillippo continued to keep the Spartans in check over his next two innings of work before giving way to Wanger, who came on in the seventh to close the door.
"The mantra for us is who's next," Grant said. "We aren't thinking about anything else but our next opponent (St. George's School on Saturday). We are not thinking or talking about an ISL championship. We still have a lot of work to do. Up and down our line up these guys have been swinging the bats well.
"It seems to be a different 5 or 6 guys doing it for us each game. We've been fortunate that when we do have guys in scoring position we have been able to string together some really good at-bats and get those guys home. Hopefully we will do more of that."