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By Dean Barker
The #3 RCBL Shockers dominated the #1 Bridgewater Reds all night to win game six of the RCBL Finals 10-2 and win the RCBL Championship 4-2 on Tuesday, August 15. With the win, the Shockers complete the season 28-13, while the Reds end at 29-11. The title was the second for the Shockers in three years, as well as their third finals appearance in four years.
“Couldn’t be happier for these guys, this is the perfect way to cap off a long summer,” Shockers head coach Nolan Potts said. “We played 41 games, so just a great way to cap off an incredible year.”
Matt House threw a complete game and got the win to finish the season 9-2, giving up two earned runs on eight hits with three walks and seven strikeouts. House was 2-0 in the finals, and 5-0 in the entire playoffs. House was also 7-24 at the plate with three RBIs in the finals.
“(The key was) just trying to pitch to the catcher, not make Dawson (Russell) do too much work back there, rely on the defense,” House said. “At the plate, just see the ball up and drive the ball.”
Derek Shifflett threw a complete game and took the loss to end the season 11-2, giving up ten runs (nine earned) on thirteen hits with three walks and six strikeouts. Shifflett threw a total of 454 pitches in this series.
“It’s really hard to end it that way, but I give kudo’s to that entire team (the Shockers), they know how to hit,” Shifflett said. “They’ve seen me a bunch, they adjusted really well, and when you put it in play like that, things happen.”
It was the final game of a storied baseball career for Shifflett, who announced his retirement at the beginning of this season.
“(My takeaway from my career is) lifelong friendships,” Shifflett said. “It’s not about the accolades, it’s not about the MVP’s, it’s not about the trophies. All that stuff’s good, but these are lifelong friends. I do business with some of these guys, I hang out with them outside of baseball. That’s why I’m so emotional right now, it’s the end of a career… Chris Huffman, Corbin Lucas, and all of them, I can’t say enough about them; it’s been a blast.”
Shockers infielder Luke Keister was named series MVP for going 14-26 with eight RBIs.
“At the plate, I just wanted to help my team win; I knew it was the final series of the season for us, and I wanted to come out on top,” Keister said. “Whatever I could do to help my team win, I was just fortunate to get the opportunity, and got lucky and got it done.”
Connor Houser got the Shockers on the board with an RBI single to center in the bottom of the second to put them up 1-0.
Harrison Madagan ripped an RBI single up the middle in the bottom of the third, followed by an RBI triple to right by Pearce Bucher. Nick Arnold plated Bucher with a sacrifice fly to make it 4-0 Shockers.
The Reds loaded the bases with one out in the top of the fourth, but Grey Sherfey grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.
With two outs in the bottom of the fifth, House singled to center to bring in one, Arnold scored on a wild pitch, Houser plated one with a double to center, and Dawson Russell singled to right to extend the Shocker lead to 8-0.
Luke Keister was caught stealing second in the bottom of the sixth, but Madagan came home on the play to push the lead to 9-0.
Mason Mantz got the Reds on the board with an RBI groundout to second in the top of the seventh, cutting the lead to 9-1.
Liam Simpson’s grounder to third in the eighth was bobbled, allowing Chris Huffman to score the second Bridgewater run. The Reds loaded the bases, but a pop fly to short from Jordan Yankey ended the inning.
With two outs in the bottom of the eighth, Keister’s grounder to short was thrown away, allowing Bodie Pullen to score the tenth Shocker run. House retired the Reds 1-2-3 in the top of the ninth to clinch the title.
The Shockers had ten runs on thirteen hits with one error and seven runners left on base. Houser was 3-4 with two RBIs. Bucher went 3-5 with an RBI, and was a home run shy of the cycle. Madagan was 2-5 with an RBI. House went 2-4 with an RBI. Russell was 1-4 with an RBI. Pullen went 2-5. Arnold went 0-3 with an RBI.
“This is why we do it, we’re not just doing it for something to do, we’re doing it to get one of these (trophies),” Potts said. “The last five years, we’ve built ourselves into a pretty good organization, and been very successful on the field, so that was the goal when I took over, to go to three championships in five years and win two of them is a pretty good five year plan.”
The Reds had two runs on eight hits with two errors and nine base runners stranded. Mantz went 2-4 with an RBI. Huffman, Simpson and Noah Cornwell were all 1-4. Brett Tharp and Corbin Lucas both went 1-3. Shifflett was 1-5 in his last game.
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