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By Josiah SchulzThe long-awaited rematch between last year‘s finalists, the Bridgewater Reds and the Clover Hill Bucks, ended in the only way to suffice their deep rivalry: controversial.
Bridgewater came into tonight looking for vengeance for their heartbreaking 6 game outing and eventual loss in last year’s finals. Tonight, they played at a level they haven’t quite reached this entire season; near perfection. The Reds scored 11 runs on 11 hits, also subsequently RBI’ing 11 players. Much to the contrary of Clover Hill, who tonight only hit the ball two times total over the course of 7 innings, 23 at bats, and 0 runs at the hands of Reds pitcher and former James Madison baseball player Derrek Shifflett.
Not only would Shifflett pitch the entire, runless game this evening; his batting came up huge for tonight’s victory. Shifflett would score 2 runs and RBI 3 of his teammates tonight.
“Low-ground balls. Keep it low, throw two seams.. That was literally the plan tonight.” Said Shifflett. “I trust my fielders. We’ve had some errors over the season, but today, nothing. Tonight was perfect.”
Shifflett would certainly not be the only player with a standout performance in tonight’s matchup. From seasoned veterans like Grey Shirfey and George Laase, who would perform lights out defensively and combine for 3 runs and 2 RBI’s - to Mason Mitchell and Jonathan Sexton who are just now experiencing their first taste of the intense rivalry, being this their first seasons with RCBL. Both Mitchell and Sexton played crucial roles defensively, however offensively, they contributed a combined 5 runs and 3 RBI’s in tonight’s dominant victory.
Tonight would also be the return of the prodigal son of the Bridgewater Reds, and reigning league MVP, Corbin Lucas. Lucas has missed a good portion of the final quarter of the regular season due to a leave of absence for his work. He would show no signs of rust as the right fielder showed up when it counted. Lucas would send home a bomb Home Run early in the 6th that would boost the offensive power of the Reds to a whole other level, RBI ing 3 guys in the process.
Lucas has played all of his RCBL seasons with the Reds, so if anybody knows about how enormous this rivalry is to the community, it would be him.
“Last year left a real sour taste in our mouths.” Said Lucas. “Through the years, we’ve developed a healthy, borderline unhealthy relationship with these guys. A lot of us grew up playing with or against these guys our whole careers. So to come here and to beat them on their home field, especially considering we’ve lost every single game we’ve played on this field this season, that felt great and I think that’s gonna be the jumpstart we need to move forward.”
By the time the bottom of the 7th inning came around, the score was 11-0 in Bridgewater’s favor. By typical baseball standards, and in the case of tonight, the game would conclude if any team is losing by 10 runs or more going into the 8th inning. This sparked a little bit of confusion and disapproval particularly from the Clover Hill fans, but especially from Bucks head coach Kevin Chandler.
“In all my 11 years, there has never been a slaughter rule in the playoffs and apparently there is this year until you get to the championship.” Said Chandler. “I had no idea about it, so that’s why I didn’t understand, however that's the rule, I guess and nothing we can do about it now.”
Bridgewater had their struggles earlier on in the season, however in accordance with RCBL folklore, tremendous offense of the Reds always finds a way to prevail and make a show in the playoffs, regardless of the regular season. Despite some hard-to-watch performances by the Reds in the beginning this season, one person in particular never lost faith in his team. This would be, of course, head coach Robert Sherfey.
“This win tonight was very important. Very, very important.” Said Shirfey. “I made sure to remind everyone that was on the team last year about how bad that loss stung. It really chewed on us all throughout the winter time. We just really wanted to prove who we really are, and we sure did that tonight. We are the Bridgewater Reds. We just had to push through some ups and downs. We’ll be contenders. Take nothing away from them, they are a great team, but we will be there and we’ll be fighting until the end.”
If you love the game of baseball, you will absolutely not want to miss tomorrow night’s game 2 of the potential 3 game series. Bridgewater looks to carry over their steamroll performance and take revenge against their arch nemesis, Clover Hill. If the Bucks lose tomorrow night, the former #1 team in the league and reigning league Champions will be eliminated from contention very early in the playoffs. A lot is at stake tomorrow night, you do not want to miss it! Reds @ Buck Bowman Park, tomorrow night at 7:30 p.m.
Final Score: Reds 11 - Bucks 0
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