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By Dean Barker
Ten days after opening night, the Montezuma Braves returned to action at Ruritan Field with a 7-5 win over the Stuarts Draft Diamondbacks on Tuesday, June 15. With the win, the Braves improved to 2-0, while the D-Backs fell to 2-2.
Lance Tate picked up the win for the Braves with eight strikeouts in 4 ⅔ innings. Jeff Randozzo was handed the loss after he gave up a run and exited in the first inning. Noah Canterbury gave up five runs for Stuarts Draft in two innings.
Montezuma had two games delayed due to rain following a 3-2 win over the Bridgewater Reds to kick off the 2021 season. The Diamondbacks were coming off a 7-4 home win over the Reds the night before.
The Braves pounced first, as Isiah Blanks scored on a wild pitch after stealing second and third in the first. Jacob Critzer drove in another with an RBI single to make it 2-0 in the second inning. Blanks would steal all three bases in the bottom of the fourth to make it 3-0 Montezuma.
In the fifth, Stuarts Draft would try to mount a rally, as Zach Roberts would drive in one with a single to make it 3-1. However, the Braves would break it open with a barrage of runs. After the first two batters were walked, Blanks would drive one in with a sacrifice fly. With the Bases loaded, Hunter Clever would rip an RBI single. A throw to second would get away, and so two runners would come home. The throw home was wild, so Clever tried to stretch it into a four-bagger, but was tagged out at the plate.
The Diamondbacks would try to strike back in the seventh. After a flying broken bat led to an error by shortstop Gavin Rush and Roberts was hit by a pitch, Terrel Thompson hit a deep ball to right field that looked to be a home run, but a leaping catch by JT Stevenson kept it in the park. However, Jack Pausic would follow up immediately with a three run homer to left. Stuarts Draft would put two more runners on base, but could not bring them home. Keegan Oliver would retire the side in the eighth for the Braves.
The D-Backs would make one last attempt at a comeback in the top of the ninth. After Thompson went down swinging, Pausic was hit by a pitch. Designated hitter Cody Bartley would ground out to Oliver and move Pausic to second with two outs. Tyler Wilcher would drive him in with a single to right field to make the score 7-5, and thanks to a Daniel Scott single, Stuarts Draft had the leading run come to the plate in Lucas Adams. However, Adams was unable to deliver, as Oliver would toss a grounder to first to end the game and pick up a save.
Both teams left a whopping 11 runners on base, and the Diamondbacks outhit the Braves 8-4. The Braves were helped by Isiah Banks, who had a sacrifice fly, two runs scored and five stolen bases. Banks, however, said it was easy.
“I was just having good reads tonight,” Banks told RCBL’s Dean Barker. “I felt good with my reads and I felt good with my jumps, and they just felt easy.”
The Braves will have another night off before traveling to the Grottoes Cardinals on Thursday, June 17 at 7:30. The Diamondbacks will hope to bounce back when they host the Elkton Blue Sox on Friday, June 18 at 7:30.
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