The pride and tradition of Bellaire High School baseball is back intact.
A year after missing the playoffs for the first time in an eternity, Bellaire swept its first-round best-of-three playoff series over Cypress Creek 2-0 by scores of 15-5 and 3-1.
“I couldn’t be prouder of this group. We faced a lot of adversity this year,” said Bellaire first-year head coach Nick Ozuna. “It feels good to come through this first series and now we have to get ready for the next round.
“We lost some guys to graduation, but we had some key guys that came back with a chip on their shoulder,” Ozuna said. “The kids understood that what was at stake here was our first core principle. Team comes first. The ‘t’ in team stands for tradition.
“For us not to make the playoffs for the first time in 34 or 35 years made these guys work a little harder during the summer and fall to get us back to this point,” Ozuna said. “It feels good to be a winner again.”
No Bellaire player more typified the team first mantra than senior two-way standout Ronald Brown.
In the 15-5 bi-district win over Cy Creek, Brown slugged a three-run home run and added a double. To close out the series (3-1), Brown pitched a complete-game one-hitter.
“Whatever helps my team win,” said Brown, when asked if he had a preference between playing in the field (first base or third) or pitching.
After laboring through a 25-pitch first inning, Brown settled in and allowed only a single marker in the fourth inning.
Brock Yates and Jake Yudkin provided RBI goundouts to pace the Bellaire offense while Dylan Agnich scored a run on a Cy Creek error.
“I was able to calm down after the first inning and gain more command of my fastball,” Brown said. “I had to stay within myself and concentrate on pounding the strike zone and it worked.”
Brown’s calm demeanor paid off at the plate in the series opener.
“I just tried to do my best and drive the ball,” he said. “Try not to do too much and hit the ball hard.”
When his prep career is over, Brown will play baseball as a position player at the University of Houston.
“Hats off to Ronald Brown,” Ozuna said. “What a heck of a performance he turned in. In his last start against Lamar, he took a no-hitter into the fifth inning. His off-speed pitches were better in that game. His secondary pitches weren’t quite as sharp today.
“As a team we competed pitch-to-pitch. That’s what we stress all the time. Just compete one pitch at a time,” Ozuna said.
Bellaire (23-6) will face Katy next in the area round of the Region III Class 6A playoffs.
“We’ve had some good battles with Katy in the past,” said Ozuna, who served as an assistant coach and played for former head coach Rocky Manuel (who still helps with the team). “We look forward to a good week of practice to get ready for them.”