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Bellinger quietly, triumphantly makes mark for Hamilton BB

March 4, 2013 by Les Willsey, AZPreps365

As Hamilton first baseman Cody Bellinger tells it, his baseball career began in infancy when a ball was placed in his left hand. Apparently that made an immediate and lasting impression on Bellinger. He's been a lefty forever -- a good one at that -- in all phases.

"Everyone in my family is right-handed," Bellinger, a University of Oregon signee last fall, said. "They told me they put a ball in my left hand. That's the way it's worked out."

Bellinger's first varsity baseball season a year ago at Hamilton High was a good one. On a team that featured third baseman Mitch Nay, a first-round, major-league draft choice in last June's draft, Bellinger carved out a fantastic season for the 2012 Huskies. Fantastic as in ......

"Cody was our most valuable player," Hamilton coach Mike Woods said. "He's a special player. A quiet kid, but he gets the job done. He's a leader. Since I've been here (15 seasons), he's the best fielding first baseman we've had. He does everything well. He was great instincts. Has a beautiful swing. There isn't anything he can't do."

Bellinger's stats from 2012 explain his choice as team MVP.  In 32 games he batted. 439 with four homers, 29 runs, 31 RBI and 12 doubles. Bellinger posted an ungodly ops (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) of  1.870

The 6-foot-3 lean lefty is the son of former major league utility infielder Clay Bellinger, mostly a New York Yankee in his four years in the bigs. Cody Bellinger, wthout hesitation, tips his cap to dad for equipping him.

"My dad's taught me everything I know about baseball," Cody Bellinger said. "Hitting, throwing, fielding. He's taught me the right way to to play. That character matters, and you have to respect for the game.  Do all you can not to let your teammates down."

In a game last Saturday (March 2) in the Desert Vista Invitational at Desert Vista, Bellinger illustrated the traits that define him. He came to bat with two on and two outs and Hamilton trailing Desert Vista, 2-0, in the bottom of the sixth. Bellinger ripped a 2-1 pitch that short-hopped the fence in center field for a game-tying double and scored the go-ahead run a minute later on sun-triple by teammate Kyle Pechloff.

Bellinger's contribution wasn't over. With Hamilton nursing a 4-3 lead in the top of the seventh and a runner at second with no outs, Woods was looking to go to the bullpen. He yelled out to Bellinger, who pitches on occasion, and asked if he wanted to finish.

"I said, 'Heck yeah, I''ll go in'.'' Bellinger said.  A fielder's choice for an out,  a hit batter and two strikeouts later and Bellinger added a save to his stat line for the day.

"I always like being the guy," Bellinger said. "I love those opportunities."

Hamilton has two of its top pitchers on the sidelines with injuries. College signees Patrick Murphy (Oregon) is out for the year and Sean Rackowski  (Kansas) has yet to throw in a game. The Huskies have pitching depth as usua. Bellinger has become part of the mix.

"He's there when we need him," Woods said. "He'll be a guy we spot in relief. He came in the first time this year and threw 88-89. Touched  91." 

Hamilton is 4-1 thus far (all games in the Desert Vista tourney) and again one of the talked-about teams when state title is the subject. The Huskies open the power-ranking portion of their schedule Tuesday (March 5) and play three such games this week. Bellinger to date is batting .375 with four doubles and four RBI. He's pitched four scoreless innings -- all in relief -- with a win, save and 0.00 ERA in two appearances

The average isn't at .400 yet, but that's no concern. He nearly undressed Desert Vista starter Tyler Viza last Saturday with a first-inning liner that Viza fortunately got his glove on  and turned into a 1-6-3 double play.  

"He's swung the bat really well," Woods said. "He's hit it hard, but right at people and been unlucky. Nothing to worry about."

And a player any coach or teammate would be proud to have.