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By Mitchell Broughton
Heading into the bottom of the eighth down 4-1, the Broadway Bruins rallied in the final two innings to win the first game of the RCBL Finals against the New Market Shockers 5-4 in walk-off fashion.
The top two teams in the regular season opened up the game with a run each in the second inning. New Market scored first after Ty Bennett’s sacrifice ground ball drove in Pearce Bucher from third. In the bottom half of that inning, Broadway’s Matt Meiser hit a double in the right-center gap to move Cole Holsinger to third. Holsinger would score following a wild pitch to tie the game.
After going three innings without a base runner, New Market would rally off four hits in a row in the top of the sixth inning. Grant Thomspon tripled off the right field wall to score both Frankie Ritter and Nick Goode. Thompson himself would cross home plate the next at-bat when Pearce Bucher singled down the third base line to increase their lead 4-1.
The New Market starter Reilly Owen had done a good job of containing RCBL MVP and Rookie of the Year Chase DeLauter. In his first three plate appearances, DeLauter was intentionally walked after a 3-0 count and flew out two times following some incredible defensive plays. In the bottom of the eighth, left-handed pitcher Michael Prosperi was on the mound to relieve Owen when DeLauter turned on an inside fastball that pushed the limits of JMU’s Eagle Field. DeLauter’s stand-up double placed runners on second and third with no outs. The next batter Travis Reifsnider would single up the middle to score one and put the Bruins on first and third. Prosperi was relieved by Ethan Laird after that hit; Laird would strike out one and walk the next batter, creating a bases loaded situation with just one out and the tying run standing on second. Matt Meiser would hit a grounder to first for an expected inning-ending double play, but New Market second baseman Nick Goode overthrew the would-be final out of the inning, allowing DeLauter and Reifsnider to score the tying runs.
John Judy, last year’s Pitcher of the Year, came in to pitch in the top of the ninth for Broadway. The EMU ace struck out two but most importantly kept the game even heading to the bottom of the ninth.
In the final half-inning of play Bryce Strawderman singled, followed by a stand-up double off the wall by Tyler Ault, putting runners at second and third with no outs and the most dangerous hitter in the RCBL up to bat, Chase DeLauter. To nobody’s surprise, DeLauter did not see a pitch and was intentionally walked to load up the bases with one out. Travis Reifsnider, in a similar situation he saw in the previous inning, battled to a full count before swinging on a Laird slider to strike out. That put the game in the hands of John Judy, who had struck out three times looking that game. Judy fouled off a fastball and watched an inside slider get called as a strike. Knowing he couldn’t wait on anything anymore, Judy dug in the batter's box and wore a Laird slider which walked in the winning run. That’s right, a walk-off hit by pitch was the hit that Broadway needed to secure the first win of the championship series.
New Market started Reilly Owen threw six innings for the Shockers. The Shenandoah right-hander struck out six, walked five, and allowed four hits and a run. His relievers, Prosperi and Laird, combined for a little less than three innings with three strikeouts, three walks, four hits, and four runs.
For Broadway they put the ball in the hands of Trent Abernathy to start the game. Abernathy also threw six innings, striking out six and gave up five hits and four runs. His reliever, Jacob Bell, threw two innings where he struck out three while allowing just one hit. Three Bruins at the plate doubled last night—Ault, DeLauter, and Meiser. Ault and Reifsnider finished the game tied for a game and team-high two hits.
The Bruins take their series lead up I-81 to Rebel Field in New Market tonight for game two for a 7:30 first pitch.
FINAL: #1 Broadway 5 - #2 New Market 4. Win: John Judy (4-0). Loss: Ethan Laird (1-1).
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