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By Leyton Pullin
On Friday July 16 the Montezuma Braves shut out the Grottoes Cardinals 9-0 behind Lance Tate’s dominant start.
Both starters Tucker Garrison for Grottoes and Tate cruised through their first inning of work before there were two away in the top of the 2nd. Tyler Smith took a pitch for a ride to left field for a solo home run to put Montezuma up 1-0 early.
Tate did not allow a hit until there was two away in the 3rd as Clayton Michael broke up the no hitter with a single past Isiah Blanks at short stop that allowed David Wood to reach third base after he had walked earlier in the inning. That was the furthest any runner would make it for the Cardinals in the game as both were left stranded as Keegan Woolford flew out to shallow centerfield to end the 3rd.
Both teams put runners aboard with one out singles in the 4th but again runners were left stranded on both occasions. It was Gavin Rush for the Braves and Jacob Zoller for the Cardinals.
Montezuma recorded their first lead off hit of the night in the 5th as Grant Thomas got aboard with an infield single that got past Garrison and rolled to a stop in front of second base to allow him to reach safely. Thomas was put out the next at bat as Isiah Blanks hit into a nice 4-6-3 double play by the Cardinals. This would be the end of the nice defense for the Cardinals as a sloppy 6th inning was to follow.
Garrison retired the first two hitters in the 6th via the ground out before Jacob Critzer came to the plate and hit a solo home run to dead center field right over top of the 375-foot sign to stretch the lead to 2-0. Rush followed with a single of his own to put him on first. Owen Marshall came to the plate next and hit a ground ball to Jacob Dansey at third base. Dansey fielded it cleanly but did not make a throw that was catchable to Wood at first allowing Marshall to reach and for Rush to reach third base. Next in the box was Tyler Smith who also hit a ground ball to Dansey that was fielded and again thrown off target to wood allowing Smith to reach and for Rush to score and extend the lead to 3-0.
Montezuma got another chance in the 7th as Kyle Armstrong hit a lead off single to start the inning. P.J. Hanisak followed him up later in the inning with a double off the wall in left field. Armstrong appeared to have come into score on the play but Garrison made a super heads up play and appealed that Armstrong missed third base. Garrison stepped on the rubber stepped off and then made the throw to third for the appeal and sure enough the base umpire ruled Armstrong out for missing third base saving a run.
Grottoes had a chance in the 8th as Montezuma went to the bullpen for the first time and called upon TR Williams in relief. Witt Scafidi pinch hit for David Wood in the nine spot and delivered with a single. Williams settled in sitting down the next two hitters on strike before Keegan Woolford drew a walk. With two on and two out Grottoes had another chance with the RCBL leader in RBIs Dylan Nicely coming to the plate. Uncharacteristically Nicely was sat down on strikes as he chased a fast ball well above the zone for the final pitch of the inning.
Coming into the 9th Grottoes stayed with their starter Garrison but that proved to be a bit of a struggle for Garrison as he faced 5 hitters who all 5 reached and all 5 scored, only 4 were earned runs. Ty Lam was called upon to try and limit the bleeding and eventually did allowing one more run unearned as he himself allowed that runner to reach as he did not field a ground ball cleanly. In the top of the 9th in total Montezuma added 6 runs off of 5 hits and 2 errors to stretch the lead to 9-0.
Grottoes came to the plate in the bottom of the 9th down by 9. The first two hitters of the inning were retired by a strike out and a ground out as Drue Hackenburg took over for the Braves. Garrison came up next and drew a walk but was left stranded as Kevin Saylor grounded out to end the game.
For Grottoes they drop to 9-8 on the season. Tucker Garrison (3-3) takes the loss for Grottoes. Garrison faced 41 hitters, gave up 14 hits, struck out 8 and gave up 8 runs only 4 were earned in 8.0 IP. The Grottoes bats were very uncharacteristically silenced as they only had 3 hits all night and 8 baserunners in total. The Cardinals will look to turn things around quickly as they travel to Bridgewater on Sunday July 18 at 6:30PM for a date with the Reds (4-12).
For Montezuma their defense and pitching were phenomenal and were the keys to their success on the night. Lance Tate (4-0) got the win tying him with Kirk Messick for the most in the RCBL. Tate, Williams and Hackenburg combined for a shutout, 3 hits, 4 walks and 10 Ks. The Braves (10-7) will have a quick turn around as they host Clover Hill (10-6) on Saturday July 17 at 7:30PM in the second match up of the year between the closely located rivals.
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