CONNELLSVILLE -- One year later Connellsville had its revenge.
Manager Joe Bonadio's squad scored seven runs in the first inning and coasted to a 9-1 victory over Belle Vernon during Friday evening's Fayette American Legion baseball playoff game at Thomas E. Sankovich Field.
It was a much different outcome than the last time these two teams met in the postseason. On July 10 last year it was Belle Vernon with the early explosion as it plated nine runs in the first inning and rolled to an 18-4 win.
Bonadio's team made sure there wouldn't be a repeat of that performance. Connellsville (12-5) sent 12 batters to the plate in the bottom of the first and got two-run doubles from Cade Warrick and Jake Frick to quickly take control.
Winning pitcher Elijah Small made sure that lead would stand up by taking a shutout into the sixth inning before being relieved by Brant Bonadio, who finished up from there.
Second-seeded Connellsville now plays top-seeded Uniontown 3 p.m. today at Hutchinson Field in the double-elimination tournament.
The game against Belle Vernon (12-7) was originally set for Thursday but rain postponed it one day, which Joe Bonadio felt was beneficial to his players.
"The kids hit the ball well," he said. "Having those couple days off, getting a little rest was good for them. They got their energy back."
Brant Bonadio, who had two hits in the first inning, started the rally with a one-out single, Austin Petraglia walked and Warrick brought in both runners with a double to put the hosts ahead to stay.
Cole Shearer followed with a walk, Collyn Flynn hit a run-scoring single and Kyle Ridley's fielder's choice brought in another run. After D.J. Farkas reached on the game's only error, Frick knocked in two more with a double and Tanner Orndorff made it 7-0 with an RBI single.
"The first inning was pretty bad," said Belle Vernon assistant coach Jake Hartman, speaking on behalf of manager Tom Hartman. "We had an error, our pitcher was struggling to throw strikes. It was just a bad game. We showed up lifeless.
"You can't take it away from Connellsville though. They're a good team. They hit the ball."
Belle Vernon settled down after the first inning and played Connellsville fairly even the rest of the way.
Connellsville tacked on two more runs against starting and losing pitcher Keaton Riley in the third inning. Frick led off with a single and Bonadio doubled him home one out later. Shearer's RBI single made it 9-0.
Meanwhile Small was cruising for Connellsville. After hitting Jake Rathway with a pitch to start the game, Small retired the next 10 batters in a row before JJ Hartman singled with one out in the fourth.
Small left after issuing his only walk to Chris McCullough leading off the sixth. He allowed one run on one hit in five-plus innings.
"Small did a great job," Joe Bonadio said. "He threw well today, hit his spots and made it tough for them to get on base.
"I took him out to save him. He hit the 60-pitch mark and that gives him two days off so he can still come back and pitch."
Belle Vernon scored its lone run in the sixth. Bonadio got Rathway to hit into a force out but Hartman came up with his second hit of the game and Max Gauden followed with a RBI bloop single to right.
Bonadio allowed four hits over the final three innings with no walks and one strikeout, and also went 3 for 4 at the plate.
"Brant's been hitting the ball all season," Joe Bonadio said. "He's been playing well. He comes in the game and he throws strikes."
Shearer also reached base three times with a double, single and walk.
Besides Hartman's two-hit day, another bright spot for Belle Vernon was McCullough, who pitched the final three innings and didn't surrender a hit while walking two and striking out three.
"Chris has done a great job for us all year," Jake Hartman said. "He's been surprising. He's giving us valuable innings."
Connellsville didn't commit an error, which pleased Joe Bonadio.
"The kids played well defensively and that's key," he said. "Most of the games that we've lost this year we've had multiple errors.
"When you go out and you don't make errors it's tough to get beat."