BRACE PARK — The Bellarmine-Jefferson High and Providence baseball programs have had their share of struggles this season.
The Guards began the year without two key players who were reprimanded by the school after a criminal incident.
The Pioneers had trouble just scarping together a team, and field a squad with some players who have never played organized baseball before.
But Bell-Jeff does have its share of solid returners, and that showed when the teams met Tuesday in a nonleague game. The Guards exploded for 10 runs in the first inning and never looked back, earning a 20-1 win against Providence at Brace Park.
The game was called in the fifth inning because of the 10-run mercy rule.
Although he knew that Providence might be going through an off-year, Bell-Jeff Coach Hector Perez said he was not about to take the Pioneers lightly.
"This is always a big game for us because it's our rivalry game," said Perez, whose team is 2-2. "I was a little nervous going in because you never know what to expect in a rivalry. A rivalry game seems to being out the best in teams. But the guys really wanted to win this one."
The Pioneers (0-3) seemed overmatched from the first inning, as the first seven Bell-Jeff players got on base in the bottom of the first inning.
First-year Providence Coach Steve Knez said his players realize that they might have to take their share of lumps this season, however, they are keeping a positive attitude.
"We have some guys who have never been in a game situation before," said Knez, a Bell-Jeff graduate. "I think we only have one senior starter. We by no means want to write off this season, but the guys know that we're young and that we're only going to get better as time goes on."
The Guards received a solid performance from leadoff hitter Philip Diaz, a senior. Diaz was three for four with a double and four runs scored. Teammate Ryan Okishii had two hits and two runs batted in and Brian DelValle had two hits, a double and four RBI.
DelValle got the win on the mound, scattering two hits over three innings.
Bell-Jeff sent 14 batters to the plate in the first inning, tallying 10 runs on seven hits. It also took advantage of three Providence errors.
The Guards kept the offensive onslaught going in the second inning, tacking on four more runs to take a 14-0 advantage.
Providence was able to get on the board with a run in the third inning. Aaron Ziegler began the inning with a single to centerfield and scored on a base hit to left field by AJ Jaspe.
Mason Invmera also had a hit for the Pioneers.
"I have to give Providence a lot of credit; they were out there fighting," Perez said.
The Guards pushed across seven more runs in a fourth inning, an inning in which they bought 12 men to the plate.