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By Jen Chan
With the final game of the regular season for the Clover Dome hosting the Bridgewater Reds it was a true battle that no one saw coming until the final 2 frames of the game. Both teams did not have many of their key players in the game that would decide who was 2nd for the championship bracket.
The Bucks would get the runs across the board first after Reds pitcher Logan Phelps struggled during the first inning to get his bearings. Lucas Clark, longtime friend of Phelps, would get hit, then Kevin Kirk would be walked to put 2 runners on base before there is a ball in-play. Drew Easter would then score both runners on a shot to left center field. Luke Shifflett would do the same the opposite way and score Easter to give the Bucks the 3-0 lead before Cody Swisher would strikeout giving the first out of the inning. Bryce Suters would then be walked to put runners on 1st and 2nd for John Siciliano to ground one over to 2nd base, gaining a fielding error, and loading up the bases with one out. Ross French would be walked and get an RBI to make the score 4-0. Alex Knicely would ground one to 2nd base and fielders choice would get French out at 2nd leaving runners on the corners and scoring Suters. Siciliano and Knicely would be stranded on base as Clark gets the final out of the bottom of the first but not after 5 cross the board for the Bucks and go around the line up once.
After 3 and a half innings including 2 errors, 1 walk, 1 strikeout, and 1 hit by pitch we make it to the bottom of the 5th inning. For the second time in the game Suters gets walked but this time from Sam Imeson, who would be the 2nd Buck pitcher this game. Siciliano would hit a standup double to right center field and score Suters for his second run this game. The inning would end with 2 strikeouts, a walk, and a flyout to right field from Knicely.
Another 2 inning span of no runs would be stopped when the Reds were able to make contact with the ball in the top of the 8th. After 2 consecutive 5 pitch walks from L. Shifflett, Liam Simpson was able to battle back in a 9-pitch at bat to hit one towards Koice Quintanilla who would touch 3rd base to get the lead runner out. Chris Huffman would then line one out to left field and would score D. Shifflett easily as Simpson would stay on 2nd. Caleb Swartley would bring in 2 more runs off another hit to right field to cut the Bucks lead in half, but the Reds still had some momentum going for them. Adding an additional walk and putting runners on 1st and 2nd, Jack Carpin would shoot one off the tall wall in left field and score the final run for the Reds in the top of the 8th before Tucker Hrasky would get in a rhythm and shut them out the remainder of the game.
The Bucks would put 6 pitchers on the mound through the entire game to get their pitching staff prepared for the most important week of games. “Today is a staff day. We are just trying to get everyone some game time before the race for the championship,” said starting pitcher Reid Long.
The Valley Care Management Player of the Game is John Siciliano. Siciliano went 3 for 3 and reaching base 4 times. He played all around the field and was able to bring in 2 runs off 2 hits with both hits being doubles.
The Reds will be on the road on Monday against New Market to finish out the regular season to determine who is 3rd seed for the bracket, as the Bucks finish out the season in 2nd seed for the bracket play. Don’t forget to catch All Star weekend starting tomorrow night at Ruritan Park at 7:30 for the Veterans Game.
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