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By Dean Barker
The RCBL Shockers took the lead in the seventh inning and never looked back in a 12-6 win at the Bridgewater Reds on Sunday, July 16. With the win, the Shockers improved to 15-7, while the Reds fell to 14-6. The Reds, Clover Hill Bucks and the Shockers are now in a three-way virtual tie for first, although the Reds and Bucks have a .700 winning percentage, whereas the Shockers are .682.
“We’ve been here before, we’ve played here before, we’ve gone up against them (the Reds) and we know these games can get intense,” Shockers head coach Nolan Potts said. “They’re very passionate about the game, and they’re the defending champs, and it’s all about just keeping your composure.”
Kirk Messick picked up the win to improve to 8-0, pitching the complete game and giving up six runs (four earned) on ten hits with two walks and five strikeouts.
“I tried my best to do what I normally do, which is to throw as many strikes as possible,” Messick said. “I struggled, I got behind a lot of batters, but fortunately I had really good defense behind me, which I always do, and they made really good plays when I needed plays, got us a win.”
Chris Huffman took his first loss of the season to fall to 5-1, giving up twelve runs (seven earned) on fourteen hits with one walk and ten strikeouts.
The Shockers got on the board in the top of the first with an RBI groundout from Luke Keister. The Reds responded in the bottom half, as Corbin Lucas doubled to bring in the first run, and a bases loaded two-out double from Nick Griffin scored two runs, but Caden Swartley was thrown out at third to end the inning.
With two outs and the bases loaded in the second, Frankie Ritter reached first on an error to plate one, and Harrison Madagan tripled to make the score 5-3. Madagan tried to score on the play, but was thrown out at home.
Noah Cornwell hit a solo home run in the bottom of the third, and Brett Tharp tied it up with a sacrifice fly in the fourth.
With Dawson Russell on second and one out in the top of the seventh, Henry Delavergne grounded out to shortstop, but Russell narrowly beat the throw to third to keep the inning alive. Ritter singled to score Russell and give the Shockers a 6-5 lead.
“For me, I just swing, kind of just close my eyes and get lucky,” Ritter said.
Keister led off the eighth with a single, and Pearce Bucher followed it up with a long home run to left. After Kaden Spaid reached first on a two-out error, Russell drove him in with a double, extending the lead to 9-5.
Huffman and Caden Swartley singled to lead off the bottom of the eighth, and Nick Griffin’s long fly ball to center field was dropped right in front of the fence, loading the bases. Grey Sherfey grounded into a double play that plated one run, and Jordan Yankey struck out to end the inning.
With the bases loaded and one out in the top of the ninth, a wild pitch to Nick Arnold allowed Madagan to score, and a two run single from Connor Houser put it out of reach at 12-6. The Reds were retired 1-2-3 in the ninth.
The Shockers had twelve runs on fourteen hits with one error and four runners left on base. Ritter was 3-5 with two RBIs. Keister was 3-5 with one RBI. Bucher and Houser were both 2-5 with two RBIs. Spaid went 2-5. Madagan was 1-5 with three RBIs. Russell was 1-3.
The Reds had six runs on ten hits with two errors and six base runners stranded. Griffin was 2-4 with two RBIs. Lucas was 2-4 with an RBI. Derek Shifflett went 2-4. Cornwell was 1-4 with an RBI. Huffman was 1-3. Yankey and Swartley were both 1-4. Sherfey and Tharp were both 0-4 with one RBI.
The Shockers will return to the field to host the Elkton Blue Sox on Tuesday, July 18 at 7:30 pm. The Reds will hope to bounce back when they host the Montezuma Braves on Tuesday, July 18 at 7:30 pm.
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