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By Dean Barker
The Grottoes Cardinals had an offensive explosion in the sixth inning to help them beat the Montezuma Braves 9-5 at Shifflet Field Thursday, June 17. With the victory, the Cardinals moved to 2-2, while Montezuma fell to 2-1. After losing their first two games, the Grottoes Cardinals have beaten two undefeated teams in a row, beating then 3-0 Clover Hill 7-1 Monday Night.
Tyler Pullin got the win for Grottoes, throwing two strikeouts and giving up two runs in five innings for the home team. Tyler Tam threw the last four innings and gave up three runs with three strikeouts. Braves starter Elijah Dunlap was tabbed with the loss, giving up two runs in the second inning. Taran Baker gave up five runs in 1 ⅔ innings pitched.
Tyler Pullin managed to escape a bases loaded jam in the top of the second for the Cardinals, which would set them up for a big inning at the plate. The Cardinals would load the bases with one out, but Jacob Zoller would be thrown out trying to score on a wild pitch. Nevertheless, Jacob Dansey would hit a bouncer past the third baseman to drive home two runs and put Grottoes up 2-0 and ultimately knock out Braves starter Elijah Dunlap.
The Cardinals almost escaped the fifth inning with a shutout, but after a wild pitch allowed Gavin Rush to move to 3rd, Dansey overthrew to first on a Kyle Armstrong grounder. Rush would come home to cut the deficit to 2-1. However, the Cardinals struck back with an RBI double from Dylan Nicely in the bottom half to make the score 3-1.
The Braves were making quick work in the bottom of the sixth, save only a single from Dansey, and a diving stop by shortstop Isiah Blanks looked like it would lead to the third out. However, with nobody covering second base, it was an infield single for Clayton Michael. Following a wild pitch from Taran Baker, Nicely ripped a two run double to put the Cardinals up by four. Given the fact that Keegan Wolford hit a monster home run on Monday night, Montezuma thought it’d be a good idea to walk him to get to Zoller. Determined to prove them wrong, Zoller hit a two run triple to right field to push the lead to 7-1.
“They’re gonna walk Keegan to get to me, that’s fine,” Zoller told RCBL’s Dean Barker. “I was feeling confident at the plate, and you know, I was just gonna take what he gave me, and he gave me a fastball outer half, and I just took it that way; drove in some runs.”
Both teams would trade runs in the seventh, with RBI singles by Blanks and Hunter Clever being matched by RBI singles by Boogie Saunders and Michael. Nicely would rip a single into left field, but Kyle Armstrong would throw out Saunders at the plate.
The Braves would try to make a comeback in the top of the ninth, as Hunter Clever would bring in one run with an RBI single. After a diving catch by Merica for the second out, Logan Jones would cause an error from Michael that would bring in another run to make the score 9-5. Forrest Shuey would be walked, bringing Wyatt Campbell to the plate as the tying run, but Lam would strike him out looking to give the Braves their first loss.
Despite leaving ten runners on base, Grottoes had their highest scoring game of the season, scoring nine runs with twelve hits. On the other hand, twelve runners left on base was the Achilles heel for the Braves, who also left the bases loaded twice. To make things worse, the Braves had six errors in the field.
Tomorrow, the Cardinals will have an opportunity to beat their third straight undefeated team as they host the defending RCBL champion Broadway Bruins at 7:30. Broadway is 3-0, but Zoller thinks the Cardinals are up to the task.
“Swing early, swing often, drive in some runs, and keep being together, and we’ll get it done,” Zoller said.
The Braves will have four nights to recuperate before they head to Bridgewater to take on the Reds on Tuesday, June 22 at 7:30.
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