BRIDGEWATER - With a trip to the RCBL semifinals on the line, the Bridgewater Reds lineup produced another big outing on the way to an 11-6 victory over Stuarts Draft. Three key innings powered the Reds to a game three victory on their home field in Bridgewater.
Neither starting pitcher made it out of the first inning as Bridgewater’s Alex Stover gave up three runs on two hits and three walks and the Dbacks jumped out to an early 3-0 lead in the top of the first.
The Reds were ready to answer back, though, as they got to Stuarts Draft’s Stephen Baker in the bottom of the first. Baker exited after two-thirds of an inning, giving up five runs on four hits and one walk.
Corbin Lucas hit an RBI single to score Kevin Bocock for the Reds’ first run of the game. It was Lucas’ first of three hits on the night, including a solo home run to lead off the bottom of the third inning.
“All series I’ve been hitting the ball hard, just right at people,” Lucas said. “Tonight was another one of those nights where I just tried to be aggressive early, look for fastballs early in the count. In this league I don’t like to get to two strikes because you never know what’s going to happen”
Lucas finished the night 3-for-5 with two RBIs and two runs scored. His home run in the third started another big inning for the Reds as they sent three more runners across the plate to make the score 8-3.
Despite the fact that they were facing elimination in each of the last two games, Lucas said the team never thought about the possibility of their season ending early.
“I don’t think so,” Lucas said when asked if the Reds were worried about getting knocked out. “That’s not something we’re really taking into consideration because we know we can have a big inning at anytime. Our pitchers are going to keep it close.”
The Dbacks didn’t give up the fight, putting up three runs in the top of the eighth, two of them coming from a Stephen Baker home run. It wasn’t enough to make a comeback, however, as Drafts’ season ended in the quarterfinals.
For the Reds, their semifinal opponent is still unknown and depends on the outcome of the New Market/Elkton series. If New Market wins the series, the Reds will face the Shockers in the next round. If Elkton wins, Bridgewater will take on Grottoes in the semifinals.
Whoever their opponent is, the defending champs are ready.
“Mainly we hope to get a lot of rest and get our pitchers back,” Lucas said. “Our pitchers have thrown a lot of pitches in these last three outings and our catchers have really had to sit there for a long time. So whoever they got coming, we’re ready for them and just hope for a great series.”
STUARTS DRAFT - In a complete turnaround from Monday night’s extra-innings loss, the Bridgewater Reds defeated Stuarts Draft 14-6 on Tuesday to even up the quarterfinal series at 1-1. Four home runs from the powerful Bridgewater lineup propelled the Reds to a dominating victory at the Diamond Club.
“Good things happen when you hit the ball hard and that’s kind of what we did, got a few runs early,” Bridgewater pitcher Tyler Bocock said. “I think that helped a little bit and just trying to settle in. We executed tonight and just added on well.”
Draft’s Ryan Cooper led off the bottom of the first with a solo home run for the first run of the game. The Dbacks’ lead lasted through the first three innings, but the Reds came to the plate ready to make a statement in the fourth.
Josh Wright led off the inning with a solo home run to left field. All-RCBL first baseman Brian Bocock followed suit with a shot of his own to nearly the same spot.
Two batters later, Andrew Armstrong hit the third home run of the inning as the Reds started to settle into a groove.
“I think we did a good job of adjusting after our first at bat and then coming out hitting balls and producing runs that way,” Bocock said about the Reds’ offense.
Bridgewater would go on to score six runs in the fifth inning and five more in the seventh to take a 14-1 lead, but the slaughter rule is not in effect in the postseason.
The Dbacks stayed in the fight with a three-run seventh inning and two runs coming in the ninth from Cooper’s second home run of the night, but they were unable to come back and Bridgewater took the game to tie the series.
Bocock picked up the win on the mound, tossing six innings and giving up two runs on five hits. The leadoff home run by Cooper might have rattled some pitchers, but Bocock settled in and led the Reds to their first win of the postseason.
“He hit it real, real good,” Bocock said about Cooper’s solo shot. “If you just stay attacking hitters overall, in the long run it works out for you, just getting outs, letting our defense do what they need to do.”
The Reds will host the Dbacks at Ray Heatwole Field tonight in a decisive game three. First pitch is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
The RCBL has announced nominees for its four annual awards. Over the next week, coaches will vote for the MVP, Pitcher of the Year, Coach of the year and Rookie of the Year for the 2018 season.
Clover Hill leads the way with five overall nominations, including three for Pitcher of the Year. Bridgewater and Broadway each have two nominees, while Stuarts Draft, New Market and Elkton have one nominee each.
Brian Bocock and Tyler Bocock of Bridgewater are both nominated for MVP. Brian finished the season batting .407 with five home runs and 29 RBIs. Tyler hit .423 on the year with six home runs and led the league with 36 RBIs. The cousins were the Players of the Week for the final two weeks of the regular season.
New Market’s Nick Goode is the third nominee for MVP. Goode led the league in batting average this season, hitting .465 in 21 games. Goode also led the league in on base percentage (.543) and slugging percentage (.767). The Shockers’ outfielder had 10 doubles and two triples on the season along with four home runs.
Corey Armentrout, Kevin Chandler and Eric Yankey of Clover Hill are all nominated for Pitcher of the Year. Chandler led the league with a 1.63 ERA over 38.2 innings while Armentrout was tied for the lead in wins with a record of 4-0.
Yankey was one of the most dominant relief pitchers this season, picking up two saves for the Bucks while also earning four wins. Yankey’s 0.42 ERA and 29 strikeouts over 21.1 innings earned him a nomination for Pitcher of the Year.
Joining the Bucks’ trio is Elkton newcomer Kris Lalk. Lalk finished the season with a record of 1-4 and one save, but was one of the most unhittable pitchers in the league. His 87 strikeouts tied the Pointstreak-era record set by Nolan Shaffer in 2013. Lalk’s ERA of 2.39 was in the top 10 in the league.
Chris Cofer of Clover Hill and Justin Getz of Broadway are the nominees for Coach of the Year. Cofer guided the Bucks to their second-straight pennant and improved over last season by finishing the year with a record of 23-5.
Getz put together a team of young talent in Broadway that finished the season 18-10. The Bruins vastly improved from last season and nearly matched their total of 21 wins from 2014-2017, as pointed out by the RCBL’s Nick Stevens.
One of those young players from the Bruins is Dan Fry, who is nominated for Rookie of the Year. Fry finished the season batting .316 with four home runs and 26 RBIs. Joining him on the list is Stuarts Draft’s Will Hass, who batted .341 with four home runs and 19 RBIs. Hass had a breakout three home run game against Montezuma earlier in the season.
Rounding out the nominees for Rookie of the Year is Matt Larson of Clover Hill. Playing 23 games at catcher for the Bucks, Larson batted .329 on the year with 17 RBIs. The rookie backstop also stole six bases for Clover Hill.
The nominees have been sent to the coaches for voting and winners will be announced sometime in the coming weeks.
BRIDGEWATER - All four times that Bridgewater and Stuarts Draft faced off during the regular season, it ended up being a blowout in favor of the Reds. But that didn’t scare Diamondbacks’ pitcher Ryan Cooper going into Monday night’s game one of the quarterfinals.
Cooper took the mound at Ray Heatwole Field and threw 123 pitches over 11 innings as the Dbacks took a one-game lead thanks to a 4-3 victory.
“I was looking forward to facing Bridgewater when we found out we were going to face them,” Cooper said following the win. “I like a challenge. Any team is a challenge, but Bridgewater, you could view them as the best team in the league.”
Monday night’s game was certainly a challenge for both squads as neither team could hold onto a lead the entire night. When the Dbacks scored a run in the second, Brian Bocock answered with a solo homer in the bottom of the inning.
When Bridgewater scored two more in the sixth, Stuarts Draft was ready to respond. Calen Owens bunted to advance Zach Brown in the top of the seventh. Two errors on the play by the Reds allowed Brown to score the tying run, knotting the teams up at three runs apiece.
Neither team was able to get anything going over the next two innings and the game went into extras with both starting pitchers still on the mound.
After going down in order in the 10th, the Dbacks put together a rally in the 11th. Cooper came up to the plate with no outs and Brown on third, driving a fly ball into centerfield. Brown was able to tag up on the play and came across the plate for the go-ahead run.
“Going back up the middle and try to hit it to the outfield somewhere,” Cooper said about his mentality during the game-winning at bat. “We had an opportunity the inning before that and wasted it so I’m like, ‘We’ve got to at least get one.’”
Cooper still had to get through the Reds in the bottom half of the inning, though.
With two runners on and two outs, the All-RCBL utility man intentionally walked Daniel Heatwole to get to Derek Shifflett. Shifflett, who had already struck out three times on the night, went down swinging, ending the game with the bases loaded and sending the Dbacks home victorious.
Cooper finished the night giving up three runs and striking out eight batters. The only free pass he issued was Heatwole’s intentional walk. Depsite his performance, Cooper credited his team with helping him get through the game.
“I’ve gotta say one thing,” Cooper said, raising his voice as his teammates around him listened while packing up their bags. “On the wet grass, the defense was spectacular tonight. I don’t strike a lot of people out, so I need my defense to be good and they were catching balls at the fence, making great plays on routine balls and tough balls. That was pretty clutch.”
The veteran pitcher made sure his catcher received some praise as well. Kurt Latocha hit an RBI single in the top of the seventh to get the inning going for the Dbacks. He was solid behind the plate, too, picking off Josh Wright at first base to end the bottom of the eighth inning.
“My catcher was amazing,” Cooper said, motioning for Latocha to join him. “I’ve pitched for a long time. I’ve pitched to some good catchers. Sometimes when you’re gassed at the end of the game, you’ve pitched 11 innings, it’s good to not have to think about what you’re going to throw because he does the thinking for you.”
Embracing Latocha in a hug, Cooper was all smiles as the Dbacks celebrated their game one victory. They’ll host Bridgewater tonight at the Diamond Club in game two.
“These guys are awesome,” Cooper said about his teammates. “I’m pretty happy.”
The members of the All-RCBL team have been announced for the 2018 season. Members of the media met earlier this week to vote on the team, which was revealed on Saturday morning’s episode of the Play Ball show on ESPN 106.9 and 1360 WHBG.
Bridgewater and Clover Hill lead the way with four players from each team being honored. Bridgewater has four position players on the team while Clover Hill has three pitchers and one position player.
This year’s team features four players who were honored last season as well: Tyler Bocock, Drew Easter, Ryan Cooper and Corey Armentrout.
A number of statistical leaders were named to this year’s All-RCBL team. Home run leader Keegan Woolford made the team as a designated hitter. Nick Goode was named as an outfielder and currently leads the league with a .470 batting average with one game left in the season.
Regular season strikeout leader Kris Lalk and ERA leader Kevin Chandler were each named to the team as pitchers. Lalk tied the Pointstreak-era record of 87 strikeouts in a season for the Elkton Blue Sox this year.
Rookie Dan Fry was named to the team in his first season in the RCBL. Fry finished the season batting .316 with four home runs and 26 RBIs. Joining him is veteran Kevin Rush, who batted .292 with 14 RBIs in what is likely his final season.
Stuarts Draft veteran Ryan Cooper was named as a utility player after batting .416 with one home run and 16 RBIs for the Dbacks this season. Cooper’s main position is first base, but he also saw time at every infield position and outfield this season.
EMU product Kyle Mathews made the team as an outfielder, batting .378 with six home runs and 20 RBIs on the season. Mathews leads the Montezuma Braves in nearly every offensive category this season.
Below is the full list of players named to the 2018 All-RCBL team.
Catcher: Tyler Mahone, Bridgewater First Baseman: Brian Bocock, Bridgewater Second Baseman: Josh Wright, Bridgewater Shortstop: Tyler Bocock, Bridgewater Third Baseman: Kevin Rush, Broadway Outfielder: Kyle Mathews, Montezuma Outfielder: Nick Goode, New Market Outfielder: Dan Fry, Broadway Outfielder: Drew Easter, Clover Hill Utility: Ryan Cooper, Stuarts Draft Designated Hitter: Keegan Woolford, Grottoes Pitcher: Corey Armentrout, Clover Hill Pitcher: Kevin Chandler, Clover Hill Pitcher: Kris Lalk, Elkton Pitcher: Eric Yankey, Clover Hill
The end of the 2018 regular season is shaping up to be just like the beginning. Games that were originally scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday have been pushed back two days due to rain coming through the area this week.
Tonight’s schedule features two games around the league. Elkton travels to Bridgewater for an interdivisional matchup with the Reds. The New Market Shockers will play the Montezuma Braves at Montezuma Ruritan Field, although the Shockers will serve as the home team in the contest. Friday will see four games played on the last day of the regular season. Elkton will be on the road again as the Blue Sox take on the Diamondbacks at the Diamond Club in Stuarts Draft. Broadway will close out the season with a matchup against the Braves in Montezuma. New Market and Bridgewater will face each other at Ray Heatwole Field in their last game of the season.
The Grottoes Cardinals play host to the Clover Hill Bucks at 7:30 on Friday night in a critical matchup for the Cardinals. Tonight is Grottoes’ last game of the regular season and the Cards are just half a game behind New Market in the East Division.
The Cardinals need to win tonight’s game and need the Shockers to lose their next two games in order to win the division. If the two teams are tied in the standings when the season ends, the division champion will be decided by head-to-head performance during the regular season. New Market leads Grottoes three games to one in the regular season series.
With the final games of the season being pushed back, the playoff schedule has been changed as well. As of right now, the playoffs will begin on Sunday, July 29. The first round is a best of three series that will be played on consecutive nights.
Clover Hill has already clinched the one-seed in the playoffs and the Bucks will take on the Braves in the first round. The rest of the playoff matchups will be determined following the conclusion of the regular season.
With two games left in the season, Elkton, Stuarts Draft, Bridgewater and Broadway all have chances to improve their playoff seeding.
The 2018 All-RCBL team will be announced this Saturday, July 28 on the Play Ball show on ESPN 106.9 and 1360 WHBG. Karl Magenhofer and Mike Bocock will announce the players at each position who have been named to the All-RCBL team for their performance during the 2018 season.
Saturday morning’s show will be broadcast live from the Hall of Fame Sports Grill at 2264 Clover Hill Road in Dayton.
ELKTON - Friday night, the Grottoes Cardinals fell one run shy of completing a ninth-inning comeback against the Clover Hill Bucks. On Saturday night, the Cardinals completed the job.
On an uncharacteristically cold night in Elkton, the Cardinals defeated the Blue Sox, 8-3, after scoring five runs in the top of the ninth inning. With their win, Grottoes remains just one game behind New Market in the race for the East, with just a few more days remaining in the regular season.
The story of the night was St. Bonaventure RHP Josh Pittman. Coming off back-to-back performances against Clover Hill and Bridgewater in which he was hit hard and often, Pittman gave up just four hits and two earned runs across seven innings.
His counterpart, potential RCBL Pitcher of the Year Kris Lalk, went 8.2 innings, striking out 10 hitters in the process. Unfortunately, four errors behind him ultimately cost his team the game. Lalk now sits at 87 strikeouts in 52.2 innings.
Brady Cockerham relieved Pittman in the eighth inning, putting in another high quality performance. Cockerham struck out four across two innings, refusing to allow a hit or a walk. He has very quietly put up 2-0 record and 1.39 ERA in seven relief outings this summer.
As for the offense, Grottoes took a two-run lead into the bottom of the fifth, after an RBI-single by Ray Tricarico and Keegan Woolford’s ninth home run of the season.
JJ Loker’s two-run double in the bottom of the seventh gave Elkton a 3-2 lead, until the ninth inning.
Dan Scott led the inning with a HBP, followed by a Logan Grimm single, and an error on a Jacob Merica ground ball. With no outs and the bases loaded, the Cardinals went to work.
Keegan Woolford drew a bases loaded walk, Dylan Nicely recorded an RBI-single, and Eli Lam drew a walk, giving the Cardinals a 5-3 lead with just one out.
Two more runs would come across on a Jacob Zoller single, finalizing the Cardinals’ rally.
Tonight, weather pending, New Market and Elkton have big matchups against Western Division foes, Clover Hill and Bridgewater, respectively. Both games will have a big impact on Grottoes and their standing in the Eastern Division.
Grottoes has just one game left on their schedule, a must-win against the Clover Hill Bucks at home on Tuesday, July 24th.
Clover Hill 8, Montezuma 3
The Clover Hill Bucks scored four runs in the first inning to take an early lead on the way to an 8-3 win over Montezuma on Saturday. Clover Hill added one more run in the third, two in the fifth and one in the eighth to complete the victory.
Bucks' starter Tanner Moyers didn't allow any base runners through the first four and a third innings. Moyers finished the night with six innings pitched, allowing just one run on four hits and striking out six batters.
Clover Hill catcher Cody Warner finished the night 3-for-4 with two runs scored and five RBIs. Warner hit a two-run home run in the fifth inning that scored Blake Sipe.
The Bucks improve to 20-5 on the season with the win. The Bucks have a 2.5 game lead over the Bridgewater Reds with two games left in the season. Their next matchup comes tonight against New Market at Buck Bowman Park.
New Market 11, Stuarts Draft 10
The Shockers were the first to get on the board last night on their way to a win over Stuarts Draft. A home run from Josh Tayman brought home Chase Smallwood to give the Shockers an early lead.
New Market put six more runs on the board during the fourth inning, which started with a RBI hit from Nolan Potts and an error made by Staurts Draft that brought home Joseph Rutherford.
Chase Smallwood walked to first bringing home teammate Billy Quinn, making the score 4-0. Ty Michau brought home Smallwood, Potts, and Gavin Rush with an RBI later in the inning.
Josh Tayman hit a sacrifice fly and brought home Michaud as the Shockers finished the fourth inning leading 8-0.
The Diamondbacks answered back by bringing home four runs in the bottom of the fourth. Ryan Cooper started the four runs with a double that brought home Tyler Wilcher and Zach Brown, which made the score 8-2.
The Shockers scored one run in the sixth and two in the seventh to make the score 11-4.
The Diamondbacks answered back in the eighth and ninth, but couldn’t get past the Shockers, making the final score 11-10.
The Stuarts Draft Diamondbacks will play again against the Elkton Blue Sox on July 25 at the Diamond Club. First pitch is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. The New Market Shockers will play again tonight against the Clover Hill Bucks at Buck Bowman Park. First pitch is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
CLOVER HILL - The usually intense feeling that typically fills the air when the Clover Hill Bucks and Stuarts Draft Diamondbacks play seemed to be missing on Tuesday night at Buck Bowman Park.
Coming off a 17-4 loss to the Bridgewater Reds, the Diamondbacks fell to another Western Division powerhouse, 14-7. With their 18th win of the season, Clover Hill takes a two game lead over Bridgewater in the West, having now won eight of their last ten games.
Clover Hill put their foot on the gas early, coming out to a 5-0 lead after the second inning. Blake Sipe, Drew Easter, Ross French, and Josh Eberly all chipped in run-scoring hits, part of a 17-hit performance by the Bucks’ starting lineup.
Every single hitter that started for the Bucks recorded at least one hit and reached base at least twice. Sipe upped his average to .323 after a three-hit performance, while catcher Matt Larson continues to very quietly put up a fantastic season in the back-end of the Bucks lineup.
Larson went 3-5 with an RBI, his 16th of the season. The RCBL All-Star is now hitting .343.
Jay Thompson and Nathan Brooks brought home the first two runs of the game for Draft in the top of the fourth and threatened with two more in the fifth, however, the high-powered offense of Clover Hill proved to be too much.
Ryan Cooper, Will Hass, Thompson, and Blake Schaar combined for eight hits and six of the runs scored for Stuarts Draft.
Making his fourth start of the season, Jordan Showalter went six innings, giving up seven hits and four runs (two earned) while striking out four Diamondback hitters. Showalter improved to 3-1 with a 3.11 ERA on the year.
The two teams will meet up for another contest tonight, this time at the Diamond Club in Stuarts Draft.
STUARTS DRAFT - The Bridgewater Reds had some close games this weekend, winning on a walk-off against Grottoes on Friday and losing by one run to Montezuma on Saturday. Monday’s game against Stuarts Draft got back to the typical Bridgewater offense, though, as the Reds won 17-4 over the Dbacks.
“Kind of a sour taste after Saturday night. That game got away from us and it never should’ve gotten away from us,” head coach Robert Sherfey said about the Reds’ weekend. “The boys realized it. We just came out and played hard baseball. Hard-nosed baseball is what we wanted to go with.”
The Reds came out firing on all cylinders and started the scoring early in the game. Bridgewater had lots of extra-base hits, hitting back-to-back-to-back RBI doubles in the first inning to take a 3-0 lead.
The Dbacks scored twice in the bottom of the first, but the Reds put the game away in the second inning.
Bridgewater scored eight runs on five hits in the second inning as they batted around in the lineup. Through two innings, the Reds had nine hits, six of which were doubles.
Continuing the hard-nosed baseball that Sherfey talked about, the Reds kept the runs coming later in the game. Josh Wright and Brian Bocock hit back-to-back home runs in the fifth inning to extend their lead.
Bridgewater ended up scoring five runs in the fifth and one in the sixth to win the game 17-4.
The Reds have beaten the Dbacks handily in every game this season, but Sherfey says that’s just the result of playing their best baseball.
“We’re just playing every game as hard as we can,” Sherfey said. “The outcome is the outcome. We’re going to give it our best every game.”
Three Bridgewater pitchers took the mound in Monday’s game. Starter Gehrig Spradlin picked up the win while Nick Griffin and Grey Sherfey came in to pitch relief innings.
Sherfey came in for the final inning, making his first appearance on the mound this season.
“We just wanted to bring him in here and let him get a taste of it,” Coach Sherfey said. “I think he’s going to be good for us in the future. He’ll help us out. It’s good for him, confidence builder.”
The Reds are now 16-6 on the season and remain in second place in the West Division. Their next matchup comes tomorrow night against the Broadway Bruins at Broadway High School.