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By Dean Barker
The Grottoes Cardinals took the lead with a five-run second inning and never looked back in a 9-2 opening night home win over the Broadway Bruins on Tuesday, May 23. With the win, the Cardinals moved to 1-0, while the Bruins fell to 1-0.
“It’s always good to get the first one,” Cardinals head coach Tim Nicely said. “We were hoping (Tucker Garrison) would give us four or five innings and he gave us six, so that’s great. And for us to swing the bat the way we did, it’s really a great positive to get it started that way.”
Tucker Garrison picked up the win for Grottoes, giving up two earned runs in six innings, striking out seven and walking none with just four hits. Eli Lam pitched the last three, giving up no runs on no hits with one walk and five strikeouts.
“(The key was to) throw strikes,” Garrison said. “I missed a few, but when they put it in play, my defense was behind me to help me out.
Carl Keegan took the loss for Broadway, giving up nine earned runs in four innings on eleven hits with five walks and four strikeouts. Brayden Collier gave up no runs with one hit, no walks and a strikeout in two innings. Karson Jennings gave up no runs on two hits with two walks and a strikeout in two innings.
Despite the loss, it was a special night for Bruins head coach Bryce Strawderman, who was coaching in his first game with a team he used to play for.
“It feels good to be back home,” Strawderman said. “Broadway’s been home for five or six years, I started playing (there) out of high school. I have very high things to say about the organization, Bryan Duff, Mitchell Wilson, they all take care of the guys. Just happy to be back here.”
Jayden Nixon hit the second pitch of the game to right center for a ground rule double. After Garrison retired the next two, Austin Whetzel singled to left field to put Broadway up 1-0. In the bottom half, Dalton Nicely and Clayton Michael singled to lead off, but Dylan Nicely flew out to left, and Whetzel caught a sharp liner from Scafidi at first and tagged the base for the inning ending double play.
After Garrison struck out the side in the top of the second, Natty Solomon and Garret Huffman singled, then Jacob Merica walked to load the bases. Luke Tomajcyzk and Dalton Nicely would hit back-to-back RBI singles to center to take the lead. After Merica was thrown out trying to take home on a wild pitch, Michael would drive in two with a double to left, and Dylan Nicely plated one with a double to center to put Grottoes up 5-1.
Grottoes got back to work in the fourth, as Michael singled, Dylan Nicely reached on a failed fielder’s choice to second, and Cameron Irvine walked to load the bases. Solomon singled to drive in two and push the lead to 7-1. In the fifth, Merica doubled, and Tomajczyk and Dalton Nicely walked to load the bases, at which point Keenan was pulled for Brayden Collier. Michael would hit a soft grounder which catcher Grant Landis would pick up, step on home plate, and throw to first for the double play. Dylan Nicely would drive in two with a single, and reached second in the midst of a pickle, and then reached third on a passed ball. That would be all, as a Scafidi groundout would keep it 9-1 Cardinals.
Nixon and Tyler Ault would each single in the sixth to put runners on the corners with one out. With Keenan at the plate, Ault would be thrown out stealing second, but Nixon would use the distraction to come home and make the score 9-2. That would be all the Bruins could muster, as Keenan would strikeout to end the inning. Broadway would have only one base runner the rest of the game.
Grottoes managed nine runs on fifteen hits with no errors and ten runners left on base. Broadway had two runs on four hits with no errors and two men left stranded.
“I think (the loss) relies more on the hitting aspect,” Strawderman said. “I think we had twelve or thirteen strikeouts tonight. If you’re striking out almost half of your game, it’s hard to get anything going offensively… (It’s) hard to put up runners with no runners on base.”
Dalton Nicely went 3-4 with an RBI and a walk. Dylan Nicely went 2-4 with three RBIs. Michael went 3-5 with two RBIs. Solomon was 2-4 with two RBIs. Merica was 2-2 with a walk. Tomajczyk went 1-2 with an RBI and a walk. Huffman was 1-2 with a walk. Cam Herron went 1-2.
Dylan Nicely said the key to the success at the plate was to have a simple approach.
“I think we just tried not to do too much, try to get some guys on base early, try to drive them in,” Nicely said. “Luckily, you know, we had Tuck on the mound, so we knew if we could just get a couple runs across, we’d probably be in good shape. We got Tuck a couple runs, he was able to attack, stay in front of guys… it makes for a pretty good recipe.”
Nixon led the way for Broadway in defeat, going 2-3 with a walk. Whetzel went 1-4 with an RBI. Ault was 1-4.
The Cardinals will hope to stay undefeated when they host the defending champion Bridgewater Reds on Wednesday, May 24 at 7:30 pm. Coach Nicely said the key to victory will be to not over-emphasize their opponent.
“I mean, it’s always tough whenever we play Bridgewater, we played them in the playoffs last year,” Coach Nicely said. “And of course, we play them four times, so it’s not just a one-time game, but you know, for us… early in the season, we’re trying to get guys in the game and try to figure out who can play where with a lot of our new guys. So we’re just gonna go out there and take that approach… I’m not really concerned about who we’re playing or whatever.”
Broadway will look for their first win of the season when they travel to the Elkton Blue Sox on Friday, May 26 at 7:30 pm. To win, Coach Strawderman says his team will need to do better at the plate.
“We’re going to have to eliminate strikeouts, again,” Strawderman said. “We’re going to have to be able to throw strikes coming out of the pen, produce quality outs on the mound, just be able to play good baseball, not as many walks, not as many strikeouts, just do the little things better.”
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