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By Dean Barker
In the final game of the 2021 RCBL Regular Season, the second-place Stuarts Draft Diamondbacks overcame two three-run deficits to beat the regular season champion New Market Shockers 14-6 on Saturday, July 24 at Rebel Field.
The Diamondbacks, who were 5-5 halfway through the season, won their last six games (and nine of their last eleven) to finish the regular season 14-7. With a Clover Hill loss at Elkton tonight, the Diamondbacks will be the #2 seed in the playoffs and face the #7 Bridgewater Reds. If the Bucks win, Stuarts would be #3 and would face the #6 Grottoes Cardinals. The Shockers finish at 15-6, and will be the #1 seed in the playoffs as they host the #8 Elkton Blue Sox.
Despite the significant change in record, Diamondbacks head coach Leslie Sandridge said there wasn’t much difference between how his team played in the first and second half.
“You just keep playing hard, and chips fall where they may,” Sandridge said. “Don’t leave anything on the field, and that’s what these guys do, they just play hard all the time.”
Trever Mitchell got the win to complete the regular season 3-0, giving up one run in three innings and striking out four. He relieved Liam Kehoe, who gave up four runs in two innings. Matt House took the loss to fall to 1-3, giving up eight runs (six earned) in four innings.
Henry Delavergne led off the bottom of the first with a solo homer to right field to give the Shockers a 1-0 lead. Frankie Ritter would follow up with a single past the third baseman Jeff Randozzo, and Pearce Bucher was walked. They would pull off a double steal, and Ritter would manage to come home as the ball got away to push the lead to 2-0. With Bucher on third and Ty Bennett reaching on a walk, House would ground into a 6-4 fielder’s choice, but would reach first to allow Bucher to score the Shockers’ third run.
With the bases loaded and one out in the top of the third, Terrell Thompson would rip a line drive to right field to bring home two runs and cut the Shocker lead to 3-2. That would be all, as House would retire the next two batters to escape the jam. Bucher would answer in the bottom half with a leadoff no-doubter to left field, and Bennett would replicate two batters later to push the deficit back to three at 5-2.
The Diamondbacks would strike back, as a two out, two run double from Calen Owens dropped just in front of Ritter in center. Zach Roberts was hit, and Thompson would bunt to reach first and load the bases. Jack Pausic would launch a three run triple off the left field wall to give Stuarts Draft their first lead of the night, and Cody Bartley would drive him in with a single to make it 8-5 Diamondbacks. Delavergne and Ritter would reach second and third in the bottom half, but would not score.
With the bases loaded in the seventh, Tyler Wilcher was hit to bring home one run. Grayson Bush followed up with a two run single to right field, and while Bush was stealing second, Wilcher came home to score. Pausic would drive in another run with an RBI single to shortstop, but Thompson was caught at third, ending the inning with the D-Backs up 13-5. Wilcher would rip an RBI single to right field in the eighth to make the score 14-5. Delavergne drove in one with a sacrifice grounder in the eighth, but that would be it for New Market, as Stuarts Draft would win 14-6.
The Diamondbacks left six runners on, and had an error that didn’t lead to any runs. The Shockers stranded ten, and made four errors which led to three runs.
Pausic was 1-4 with three RBIs and a run scored. Owens went 2-4 with two RBIs and two runs scored. Wilcher was 1-3 with two RBIs and three runs scored. Bush was 1-5 with two RBIs and a run scored. Bartley went 2-4 with an RBI and two runs scored. Thompson went 1-3 with an RBI and a run scored. The Diamondbacks totaled twelve hits.
Delavergne went 2-4 with two RBIs and a run scored. Bennett was 2-4 with an RBI and a run scored. Bucher went 1-4 with an RBI and two runs scored. House went 1-4 with an RBI. Ritter was 2-5 with a run scored. The Shockers put eleven hits together.
While the Diamondbacks have been playing their best baseball as of late, Sandridge is still very cautious as they get ready for the playoffs.
“It’s gonna be tough, all teams are gonna be tough in the playoffs, especially in a three game series,” Sandridge said. “Everybody’s got pitching for three games, so every game’s gonna be tough in the playoffs.”
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