O’Brien throws no-hitter, McDonald blows out Mineral Ridge 21-0

Staff photo / Preston Byers McDonald Belle O’Brien begins her windup during the Blue Devils’ 21-0 win over Mineral Ridge.

MINERAL RIDGE — Belle O’Brien tossed a no-hitter, hit a home run and drove in a game-high four RBIs as her McDonald Blue Devils shut out Mineral Ridge in a 21-0 five-inning blowout victory on Monday.

O’Brien carried a perfect game into the fourth inning and struck out the first batter of the half-inning before an errant pitch struck Lily Merolillo, Mineral Ridge’s starting pitcher, on the knee. After the game, O’Brien said she was not mad she missed out on what would have been her third perfect game of the season, but she said it “hurts a little bit.”

After the HBP, O’Brien struck out the next two batters to finish the inning, and after allowing her first and only walk of the game to lead off the fifth, O’Brien closed out her no-hitter with three straight outs, including a final strikeout, her 11th of the game.

O’Brien said McDonald had a “rough” last week, which included narrow losses to West Branch and Western Reserve, and that they approached Monday’s road game against Mineral Ridge as a “different team.”

“I honestly think we just came out aggressive on both sides of the ball. I came out and I was pitching really well. And we came out and we were hitting really well,” O’Brien said. “Honestly, I don’t think we were going to take a loss today. We came out to win and that’s what we did.”

After a scoreless first inning, McDonald jumped out ahead with a big half-inning in the second that was aided by a few Mineral Ridge errors; the Blue Devils scored nine runs, with Kayla and Jenna Helco, Aubrey Evans, Marrissa Colarich and Gianna Mancini each recording at least one RBI each.

McDonald continued to take advantage of Mineral Ridge’s mistakes in the subsequent innings, as the Devils scored six runs in the third, three in the fourth and another three in the fifth for a 21-run offensive outing. The three runs in the top of the fifth were all driven in by O’Brien, who smacked a pitch over the center-field fence for the only home run of the game.

“Belle had a fabulous game,” McDonald head coach Michelle Titus said. “She did her job on the mound. She did her job at the plate. She does that quite often. And she’s just a very strong, strong player. She has a strong will, and I’m really proud of her and the rest of the girls today.”

The Rams’ offensive fortunes proved to be as far apart from McDonald’s as possible on Monday. Six of Mineral Ridge’s first seven batters struck out and Merolillo was only one of two Rams to reach base the entire game. Maddie Gerberry also reached base when she drew a leadoff walk in the fifth inning.

Mineral Ridge co-coaches Joe Merolillo and Will Sandy said their girls will need to “flush” Monday’s result and bounce back mentally from the loss.

“Like we just told the girls, we’ve watched how hard they work in practice and the hustle that they have in practice, and I just didn’t see that tonight,” Mineral Ridge coach Joe Merolillo said.

The Rams will have their opportunity at revenge today; Mineral Ridge will visit McDonald for a 5 p.m. rematch in the second leg of a back-to-back.

Have an interesting story? Contact Preston Byers by email at pbyers@tribtoday.com. Follow him on X, formerly Twitter, @PresByers.


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