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By Dean Barker
After going down 6-0, the #1 New Market Shockers scored eleven straight runs to defeat the #7 Bridgewater Reds 11-9 in game three of the RCBL Semifinals on Tuesday, August 3 at Rebel Park. With the win, the Shockers improve to 20-6 and move to their second straight RCBL Finals, where they will play either the #3 Stuarts Draft Diamondbacks or the #5 Broadway Bruins. The Reds conclude the season at 8-18, and fall in the semifinals for the second year in a row.
Cade Templeton picked up the win to move to 2-0, giving up three runs and striking out four in six and a third innings. Chris Huffman took the loss for Bridgewater to fall to 1-2, giving up seven runs (four earned) on nine hits in four innings.
Derek Shifflett was walked to lead off the game, and Brett Tharp followed up with a single. Corbin Lucas grounded into a 6-4-3 double play that moved Shifflett to third. Noah Cornwell’s single to center would give the Reds a 1-0 lead, but he was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double.
Shockers head coach Nolan Potts was proud that his team took this game seriously, despite having a 2-0 lead and just needing one more win.
“Just proud of how they responded, because a lot of teams would’ve folded being down 6-0, knowing that ‘Oh, we have a 2-0 lead in the series… we can just play tomorrow,’” Potts said. “Just a great series, Bridgewater’s a really good team over they’re, they’re coached well, they’ve got great players, so (we’re) happy to be moving on.”
Hunter Miller and Jared Meadows singled in the second, and Matthew Wine was walked with two outs to load the bases for Bridgewater. Shifflett ripped a single to left to drive in two, and advanced to second on a wild throw from the left fielder Calvin Pastel. Tharp followed up with a three run shot over the right field wall to increase the lead to 6-0.
Luke Estep walked to lead off the bottom half, reached second on a grounder from Matt House, then took third and home on two passed balls to cut the deficit to 6-1.
Pastel led off the bottom of the third with a single, and reached second and third on an error from Chris Huffman, which also allowed Henry Delavergne to reach base. Pearce Bucher was walked to load the bases, and a double from Estep brought everyone home for the Shockers and made the score 6-4.
Keister reached first on a fielder’s choice, and Pastel singled to left in the fourth. With two outs, Delavergne’s grounder to Xavier Moore at third resulted in an overthrow, and both base runners came home to tie the game at 6-6.
A Ty Bennett RBI single to left in the fifth gave New Market the lead for the first time of the night. House would follow up with an RBI single, and Brayden Hovatter would drive him in with another RBI single to make the lead 9-6 Shockers.
With runners on the corners in the sixth, Tharp tried to throw out Frankie Ritter stealing second, but his throw slipped out of his hand, allowing Delavergne to score. Estep would plate Ritter with a double to right field to make the score 11-6.
Huffman singled and Shifflett and Tharp walked to lead off the top of the ninth with the bases loaded. Lucas and Cornwell walked to cut the lead to 11-8. Grey Sherfey flew out to shortstop for the first out. Hunter Miller grounded out to second to bring in Tharp and make it 11-9. Meadows walked to load the bases again and put the
tying run on second, but Antonio Florentino-Sosa popped out to Bennett behind the plate to end the game.
The Reds left eight runners on base, and had four errors to account for six fatal unearned runs. The Shockers stranded six, and had two errors lead to three unearned runs.
Tharp went 2-3 with three RBIs and two runs scored. Shifflett was 1-3 with two RBIs and three runs scored. Cornwell went 2-4 with two RBIs. Miller went 2-5 with an RBI and a run scored. Lucas went 1-4 with an RBI. The Reds had eleven hits in their last game of the season.
Estep went 2-4 with four RBIs and a run scored. House was 1-3 with an RBI and a run scored. Hovatter was 2-4 with an RBI. Bennet went 1-5 with an RBI. Pastel was 3-4 with two runs scored. The Shockers had twelve hits on the night.
Estep said that forgetting about Sunday night, where the Shockers almost blew a six run lead in the ninth, was key in winning last night’s game.
“We just had to know that that was just kind of a fluke, and just get past it and push forward to this game,” Estep said. “We almost blew it again, but we’ve just gotta limit those mental errors in the next series.”
To win the championship, Potts says resting will be crucial, considering the wild series the Shockers just won.
“It’s been a stressful last four days. This series has been, like you said, you don’t know how to describe it,” Potts said. “Just mentally, it’d be good to get away from it for a day or two and see how the other series turns out.”
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