CLOVER HILL - CLOVER HILL- Game one of the Rockingham County Baseball League championship series did not disappoint. In the showdown of all showdowns, the Bridgewater Reds sent Derek Shifflett to mound to match up against the regular season champion Clover Hill Bucks and their ace, Corey Armentrout.
The stands were full, excitement and tension ran high throughout the Clover Dome, and the action on the field was exactly what everyone expected it to be.
In a truly unbelievable performance, Bridgewater starting pitcher Derek Shifflett threw 147 pitches in a complete game, winning effort to clinch game one of the RCBL championships.
Shifflett gave up three earned runs on 11 hits, striking out nine Bucks hitters, all while in obvious pain. Working through the second inning, Shifflett doubled over in pain, holding his oblique area as he walked around the back of the mound. As the crowd fell silent, except for a few gasps from Bridgewater faithful, Shifflett tossed a few warmup pitches and continued on his way.
Even though the velocity seemed to dip, Shifflett relied on his pitch selection and defense behind him to finish off one of the more memorable pitching performances in league history.
Corbin Lucas, Tyler Bocock, and Tyler Mahone each drove in runs through the first three frames, giving Bridgewater a quick 3-0 lead heading into the bottom of the third.
With Drew Easter and Addison Griffin on base in the third, Blake Sipe tied the game up with one swing of the bat, sending a three-run home run over the left field fence. Despite the humid conditions and moist air, the ball slowly carried its way out of Buck Bowman Park, reenergizing the home crowd.
The next four frames went scoreless as both teams traded hits and highlight reel defensive plays, including a diving, Gold Glove worthy grab by Sipe in centerfield to save two runs from scoring.
Coach Cofer sent his ace back out to the mound to start the eighth inning, quickly pulling Armentrout after he surrendered a leadoff walk to Grey Sherfey. Armentrout was replaced by the RCBL’s top relief pitcher, Eric Yankey to finish out the final two frames.
A throwing error by Clover Hill and an RBI-double from Brian Bocock would give Bridgewater a 5-3 lead, enough of a cushion to allow Shifflett to finish off his epic performance.
Every single starter on each team reached base at least once as both teams combined for 22 hits in a game that undoubtedly has set the tone for an unforgettable best-of-seven series to decide the 2018 RCBL champion.
Game two will take place tonight at Ray Heatwole Field with first pitch scheduled for 7:30 pm.