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By Mitchell Broughton
Hundreds of spectators flooded historic Buck Bowman Park on Saturday night to witness the first live sports to take place in the Valley in months, watching the Clover Hill Bucks defeat the Broadway Bruins 6-4.
After a slow offensive start for the Bucks facing Broadway’s John Judy, reigning RCBL Pitcher of the Year, Clover Hill rallied after a game-tying three-run home run from 1B Luke Shifflett in the bottom of the 6th. DH Tyler Bocock broke the tie in the bottom of the 8th after crushing a two-run home run over the center field seats to give Clover Hill a 5-3 lead. Later on in that same inning, 2B Kevin Kirk’s double scored SS Grant Painter to increase the Bucks lead 6-3.
Clover Hill relied on a joint pitching effort, starting with RHP Nick Corbin. Corbin in four innings gave up three hits and a walk, but struck out two batters and allowed zero runs. Sam Ewald, helped in relief to strike out three of his own to go along with zero hits and zero runs. Closing out the game for the Bucks, veteran closer Eric Yankey got out of a potential 9th inning Broadway rally to strike out the final batter, securing the first win of 2020 for Clover Hill. The Buck’s pitching core received great help from their defense, middle infielders Kevin Kirk (2B) and Ross French (SS) orchestrated three crucial double plays early on in the contest, causing Broadway to leave eight runners on base.
John Judy, limited to a pitch count, seemed to be continuing his dominance from 2019. The Broadway right-hander struck out four and gave up four hits and a run in five and two-thirds innings.
The Bruins came into Friday night’s game with a new attitude and an aggressive offensive strategy that could only be influenced by new assistant coach and RCBL Hall of Famer Bobby Wease. Broadway played small ball, with three stolen bases on the evening the Bruins seemed to always have a runner in scoring position. In the top of the 6th, catcher Travis Reifsnider broke the scoreless tie with a double that scored SS Josh Jones. Two batters later, left fielder Tyler Ault’s double scored Reifsnider. Ault scored on the next play as CF Matt Meiser singled to right field.
Broadway, just 1-3 against Clover Hill last season, looks to have put together a competitive lineup for 2020 as shown in tonight’s contest. As noted previously, the additional talent coming into the RCBL this season makes it so any team has a shot at a pennant and the title.
Around the league: The Grottoes Cardinals won both games of a doubleheader against the Montezuma Braves 4-2 and 13-5. The New Market Shockers defeated the Elkton Blue Sox 5-3. And the Bridgewater Reds beat the Stuarts Draft Diamondbacks 13-6 in ten innings.
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