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By Dean Barker
The Stuarts Draft Diamondbacks had their own fireworks celebration for Independence Day Weekend, scoring eleven earned runs to give the first-place Montezuma Braves their first home loss, 11-3 on Saturday, July 3. With the win the Diamondbacks improved to 7-5 and are just one game out of first place, while the Braves fell to 7-3.
Liam Kehoe picked up the win for the Diamondbacks to move to 2-0, pitching the complete game and striking out seven with three earned runs. Braves starter Kyle Armstrong took the loss in his first mound appearance of the year, giving up seven earned runs in 4 ⅔ innings on eight hits. Jacob Dunford would give up three earned runs in 3 ⅓ innings. Taran Baker would give up one earned run in the ninth.
Kehoe threw a complete game, but he was expecting a short appearance on the mound.
“I only had the mindset to go up there and throw a few innings, but after I hit a few innings, I was feeling good, just in the zone,” Kehoe told RCBL’s Dean Barker. “Innings were flying by, and I just managed to keep being able to go out there, and I pitched nine, I just looked up and there it is.”
The Diamondbacks loaded the bases in the first inning off a walk to Terrell Thompson, a double that one-hopped the right field wall from Will Hass, and a walk to Cody Bartley. A sacrifice fly to center field from Dan Scott would score Thompson to put Stuarts Draft up 1-0. The Braves would respond in the bottom of the second, as JT Stevenson would walk, steal second, reach third on a passed ball, and come home on an RBI single to left from Owen Marshall to tie the score at 1.
Stuarts Draft would bat around the lineup in the top of the fifth. Hass would drive in Calen Owens and Thompson with a single to right. He would come home on a single from Scott. Doug Pollock would then hit a single up the middle, and would reach second on a failed fielder’s choice to third. With two outs, Chaz Harvey would launch a three run homer off the right field light pole to make the lead 7-1, at which point Armstrong was pulled for reliever Jacob Dunford.
The Braves would chip away at the lead in the bottom half. Following the first out, Tyler Smith would be walked, and Michael Robertson would rip a single that sent him to third. A hopper from Isiah Blanks was too much for shortstop Grayson Bush to handle, as a deflection would allow Smith to score and Blanks to reach. Hunter Clever’s grounder would lead Blanks to be caught at second, but he would break up the double play, as a wild throw to first would make way for Robertson to score and make the score 7-3.
The D-Backs would add some insurance in the top of the eighth. After a single from Bush and a double from Owens, Thompson would rip a double to left field to bring them both in. After Thompson stole third with no throw, Hass would plate him with an RBI groundout to second. In the ninth, Tyler Wilcher would plate one last run with a sacrifice groundout to make the final score 11-3.
Robertson went 3-5 and scored once for Montezuma. Blanks was 1-4 with one RBI. Marshall went 1-3 with one RBI. PJ Hanisak went 2-4. Gavin Rush was 1-3. Stevenson went 0-3 with one run scored, and Smith was 0-3 with a run scored. The Braves were held to eight hits and left seven stranded.
Hass went 4-5 with three RBIs and a run scored. Harvey was 2-5 with three RBIs and a run scored. Thompson went 1-3 with two RBIs and three runs scored. Scott was 1-3 with two RBIs and two runs scored. Witcher was 0-5 with one RBI. Owens went 2-4 with two runs scored. Pollock and Bush were both 2-5 with a run scored. The D-Backs had 14 hits and left seven runners on base.
Kehoe relied heavily on the D-Backs’ offense to get through the evening.
“We had some guys that were really teeing off tonight, and it was really nice,” Kehoe said. “It’s a luxury having that, because when you’re down, it’s hard to keep a good mindset.”
The Diamondbacks will hope to push their win streak to three on Monday, July 5 at 7:30 pm, when they travel to Shifflet Field to face the Grottoes Cardinals. The Braves will hope to bounce back on Tuesday, July 6 at 7:30 pm, when they head to New Market to take on the Shockers.
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