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By Dean Barker
The #3 RCBL Shockers had a solid offensive night and beat the #2 Clover Hill Bucks 8-3 in game five of the RCBL Semifinals on Sunday, August 6. With the win, the Shockers win the series 3-2 and advance to their third RCBL Finals in four years, while the Bucks finish the season 23-11 and lose their second straight semifinal.
“It is hard to win here (at Buck Bowman Park); the fact that we did it twice is a testament to these guys and the way they play,” Shockers head coach Nolan Potts said.
Matt House got the win for the Shockers, pitching six innings and giving up two earned runs on three hits with three walks and six strikeouts. Kirk Messick threw the first three innings, giving up three runs (two earned) on six hits with a walk and three strikeouts.
“I tried not to leave pitches up, just attack hitters, and let the defense do all the work,” House said.
Tucker Hrasky took the loss to finish the year 3-2, pitching five innings and giving up four earned runs on eight hits with no walks and five strikeouts. Jaden Isidro pitched an inning and two thirds of relief, giving up four earned runs on six hits with no walks and no strikeouts. Reid Long pitched two and a third scoreless innings with no hits, a walk and three strikeouts.
The Shockers got on the board first with an RBI single from Pearce Bucher in the first inning, and an RBI single from Frankie Ritter made it 2-0 in the second.
The Bucks left the bases loaded in the bottom of the second, but tied the game up with back-to-back RBI doubles from Jose Rocha and John Siciliano in the third.
Josh Eberly gave Clover Hill a 3-2 lead with a fielder’s choice grounder to Ritter at shortstop in the fourth.
With two outs in the top of the fifth, Nick Arnold and House came through with RBI singles to give the Shockers a 4-3 lead.
Luke Keister added to the lead with an RBI single in the sixth to make it 5-3.
Kaden Spaid doubled in the seventh, and Bodie Pullen broke it open with a two run double to give the Shockers an 8-3 cushion. Pullen was 0-4 until that at-bat.
“I really just had to get out of my own head,” Pullen said. “I was trying to do too much at the plate, I just had to get back to what I’d been doing all series.”
Lucas Bauer hit a bases-loaded, two out single in the bottom of the ninth to cut the lead to 8-5. Koice Quintanilla came to the plate as the tying run, but grounded out to Ritter to end the game.
The Shockers had eight runs on fourteen hits with one error. Ritter was 3-5 with an RBI. House was 2-5 with an RBI. Keister was 2-3 with an RBI. Pullen was 1-5 with two RBIs. Arnold and Spaid were both 2-4 with an RBI. Bucher was 1-4 with an RBI. Harrison Madagan went 1-5.
The Bucks had five runs on nine hits with no errors. Bauer was 2-5 with two RBIs. Eberly and Siciliano were both 1-4 with an RBI. Quintanilla and Lucas Clark both went 1-4. TJ Johnson was 2-4. Rocha was 1-5 with an RBI.
“It was a good year, but you know, the goal every year is to get to the championship and win it,” Bucks head coach Kevin Chandler said. “So yeah, we got awards, we won 23 games, but it’s disappointing to lose like this and not be in the finals.”
The Shockers will take on the defending RCBL Champions in the #1 Bridgewater Reds for the 2023 RCBL Title. Game one of the best-of seven series will be at Bridgewater on Tuesday, August 8 at 7:30 pm. Home field advantage will alter each game.
“It’s not going to be easy, but we’ve played them well throughout the year,” Potts said. “We’ve gotta come out and just execute our stuff.”
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