By Matthew Atkins STUARTS DRAFT - Stuarts Draft manager Les Sandridge spoke before the season about the importance of mentality in the game of baseball. After the Diamondbacks 10-5 win over Elkton on Saturday, it’s clear that his team’s mentality is in the right place.
“Just the grit and the teamwork,” Sandridge replied when asked what impressed him about the victory. “Everybody’s up on each other, you know, hey come on we can do it. Just the cohesiveness of the team.”
The Diamondbacks had to fight their way to a win after going down early to the Blue Sox. Elkton clean-up hitter Cameron Stanley hit a two-run home run in the top of the first to put the Blue Sox in the lead. Trent Miller followed suit an inning later with a solo home run of his own to make it 3-0 in favor of Elkton.
The Diamondbacks were hitless until the bottom of the third inning, when Terrell Thompson hit an RBI single that scored Taz Miller. Draft added three more runs in the bottom of the fifth to take a 4-3 lead, but the Blue Sox weren’t about to go away easily.
The game was back-and-forth over the next two innings. Every time the Blue Sox scored a run to tie it, the Diamondbacks added another run to take the lead back.
Finally, with the game tied at five runs apiece in the bottom of the eighth inning, Stuarts Draft started to break away.
The first five hitters reached base and came around to score, giving the Diamondbacks the biggest lead of the night.
With runners on second and third and no outs, Ryan Cooper hit a sacrifice fly to right field that scored Terrell Thompson and sealed the deal for Stuarts Draft.
The Blue Sox got two runners on in the top of the ninth, but Cooper made a spectacular double play to end the game, catching a line drive and tagging first base before JJ Loker could make it back in time.
Coach Sandridge said he was impressed with the speed his runners had on the bases, which was evident when Thompson made it from first to third on a single by Cooper in the seventh inning. Despite the comeback effort from his team, Coach Sandridge did see some things he knows the Diamondbacks will have to improve on in the future.
“We’ve got to hit better,” Sandridge said. “We pulled off what we needed to. We did a good job of getting on base and that kind of deal.”
The Diamondbacks racked up seven hits on the night, two coming from Colt Miller, who finished the night 2-for-4 with two runs scored.
Taz Miller had a good night offensively as well, going 1-for-2 with two walks and two runs scored. On the mound, the pitcher who shined the most for Draft spent the least time on the field. Cody Bartley came in to pitch in the top of the fourth and struck out the next six batters he faced before being taken out of the game.
“We were on a schedule,” Coach Sandridge said of the decision to take Bartley out. “It would’ve been nice to have left him in there, but everybody’s got to work.”
After securing a win in the first game of the season, Coach Sandridge feels confident in his team. “I think we did all right,” he said. “I think everything will be all right.”
The Diamondbacks continue their season with a matchup at Grottoes tonight, while Elkton hosts Montezuma at Stonewall Memorial Park.