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By Dean BarkerAfter going down 5-2 in the fifth, the #5 Broadway Bruins scored six unanswered runs to beat the #4 Montezuma Braves 8-5 and sweep the RCBL Quarterfinals 2-0 on Wednesday, July 28. The Bruins improved their record to 12-11, while the Braves concluded their season at 12-11. After losing the regular season series 2-1, Broadway took the complete 2021 series with Montezuma 3-2.
Jett Shue picked up the win with four shutout innings and nine strikeouts to move to 1-2. Jordan Yankey pitched five innings for Broadway, giving up five runs (four earned) with nine hits and striking out two to get the no-decision.
Taran Baker took the loss to end his season at 1-0, giving up three runs (two earned) in two and a third innings. Lance Tate went five innings and gave up five runs (three earned) with four hits and two strikeouts for a no-decision, completing his All-RCBL season with a 3-0 record.
With two outs in the first, Hunter Clever would double to left field. Yankey would strike out PJ Hanisak, but on the dropped third strike, Chris Taylor’s throw to Devon Neal would go into right field and allow Clever to score.
Justin Lohr would reach on an error from Gavin Rush in the bottom half, and Caleb Taylor would drive him home on a sacrifice fly to right to tie the game at one.
Rush would lead off the second with a single, and came home on a two-out single from JT Stevenson to reclaim the Montezuma lead at 2-1. With two outs in the third, Owen Marshall would rip a two run double to push it to 4-1.
Tate took a no-hitter into the fourth inning, when Taylor led off with a single to center. Neal would walk, and Bryce Turner would drive in Neal with an RBI single. The Bruins would strand two, as Jaydon Nixon grounded out to shortstop Isaiah Blanks to end the threat at 4-2.
Grant Thomas responded with a solo shot to right field to increase the lead to 5-2 in the top of the fifth. Taylor answered with a two run shot to left to cut the deficit to one. With two outs and the bases loaded, a grounder from Ben Hutcheson was bobbled by second baseman Thomas to make the score 5-5. Tate got Nixon to fly out to center to escape the jam.
In the bottom of the sixth, Taran Baker would take over for the Braves on the mound. Abernathy would reach with a single, and Trevor Thomas would rip an RBI double to left field to plate him and give the Bruins a 6-5 lead.
With two runners on and one out in the bottom of the seventh, Nixon ripped a double to plate Neal. Turner would be thrown out trying to take home, keeping the score 7-5 Bruins.
With two on and one out in the bottom of the eighth, Landon Stuhlmiller would strike out, and be thrown out on a dropped third strike. Clever tried to pick off Thomas at third, but the throw hit him, and would bounce away and allow Thomas to make the score 8-5.
Kyle Armstrong led off the ninth with a single, and would steal second, but Shue struck out everyone else to end the game.
Montezuma left eight runners on base, and had three errors which led to three fatal unearned runs. Broadway left ten runners on base, and had two errors which accounted for one unearned run.
Taylor went 2-3 with two RBIs and three runs scored. Thomas was 1-3 with an RBI and two runs scored. Nixon went 1-4 with an RBI. Turner went 1-2 with an RBI, and Hutcheson had one RBI. Abernathy was 2-4 with a run scored. The Bruins had seven hits on the evening.
Marshall went 2-2 with two RBIs. Stevenson was 2-4 with one RBI. Thomas went 2-4 with an RBI and two runs scored. Hanisak had one RBI. Rush went 2-4 with two runs scored. The Braves had ten total hits.
Despite the early exit, Braves head coach Chris Rush said there were still positive takeaways from his club’s 2021 season.
“We’re building something here. I told all these guys this year, it’s one of the best groups of guys I’ve had,” Rush said. “We’ve had some good teams in the past, but these guys played for each other, they didn’t just play for themselves, and as a coach, that’s what you want.”
Clever, who won Rookie of the Year this season, said this season was a learning experience for him.
“I’ve been blessed with this opportunity this year, and (I) definitely will take away the aspect of… knowing how to finish games, knowing how to have a heart, come out and compete every day, and knowing how to fight for my teammates every night,” Clever said. “This team really pushed me to be… the best player I can be, and that’s what I’m going to take away.”
Broadway will face the Bridgewater Reds in the RCBL Semifinals. The date and time of game one is to be determined. To defend their title, Neal says the Bruins must understand how good their competition will be.
“We’ve just gotta come out and pitch good, field the ball, hit the ball,” Neal said “We’re expecting a good tournament the whole way around, so we’ve gotta go into every game with the mindset of ‘We’re not playing this easy.’ We’ve gotta take everyone seriously, so we’re ready to go.”
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