With the team’s combining to leave 19 runners on base, there was plenty of opportunity to score, but in the end only three crossed home plate.
“Nobody really got the timely hits,” declared Bradley Central head coach Travis Adams after his Bears completed the District 5-AAA sweep of archrival Cleveland High with a 3-0 victory. “There were a lot of missed opportunities.”
“When you don’t score and you leave 10 men on base, it’s hard to win. We’ve struggled at the plate lately.” stated Cleveland coach Ted Carson.
While both coaches had praise for their pitchers, they also acknowledged the hurlers had to work out of trouble several times.
“(Taylor) Thompson did a good job for them (Cleveland), but had to work out of some jams, just like Brett (Standifer) did for us,” assessed Coach Adams. “Brett being able to go deep helped out our bullpen.”
Standifer earned his second pitching victory in as many starts by allowing just two hits and striking out 10 Raiders in five innings of work.
Seth Lee came on for the final two frames for the Bears and picked up the save.
Thompson saw his season mark even at 1-1 after he did six innings of work on the hill, recording 8 K’s, but allowing seven hits and three earned runs.
Chantz Placek fired a 1-2-3 seventh inning for Cleveland, striking out a pair.
Both starters walked four batters, while Lee also issued a free pass.
Both teams will play in the Ooltewah Invitational starting this evening with games against Bearden (3-3) at the Toby McKenzie Baseball Complex.
The Bears (4-2, 3-1 District 5-AA) will battle the Bulldogs at 5, while the Raiders (2-6, 1-3) will knock heads with the Knoxville team at 7:30.
The roles will be reversed Friday evening on the same field as Cleveland faces Jackson North Side (3-3) at 6 p.m., with Bradley taking on the Indians from West Tennessee at 8:30.
On Saturday the two local squads will face unbeaten Sycamore (7-0) with the Bears playing the War Eagles at 1:30 and the Raiders taking on the Cheathem County squad at 4.
Bradley and Cleveland both have 11 a.m. games Saturday with the Bears hosting Franklin County (4-3), under the direction of former Polk County coach Michael Carter, while the Raiders will travel to Ooltewah to face unbeaten Silverdale Baptist Academy (5-0), led by Cleveland alumnus Jonathan Adcock.
Wednesday’s opening inning at Raider Field was a precursor of things to come as both starting pitchers allow a hit, but got out of jams with three strikeouts.
Bear senior Caleb Pace led off the game with a solid single, then stole second, but was stranded when Thompson notched his first three K’s.
After striking out the Raider leadoff man, Standifer gave up an infield hit to Austin Dykes and then Thompson reached on an unsuccessful fielder’s choice, which allowed him to advance to second.
With two runners in scoring position, Standifer set down the next two batters swinging.
Bradley got a pair of runners on in the top of the second when senior Logan Blackwell ripped a two-out double and then classmate Chandler Duggan drew a walk. Thompson once again rose to the challenge and struck out the next batter to quell the uprising.
Bradley threatened again in the third when senior Jacob Barnes laced a two-out single, but once again Thompson answered the call with his second K of the frame.
The Bears finally broke through in the fourth as senior Hunter Rogers opened the frame with a single and was bunted to second by sophomore Kylar Lynn.
After both Blackwell and Duggan worked walks to load the bases, Tanner Cox lifted a sacrifice fly to right field to plate Rogers.
After another free pass was issued to Pace to jam the sacks again, junior Austin Calfee and Barnes came through with two-out infield singles to score Blackwell and Duggan.
Cleveland tried to answer in the bottom of the fourth as Standifer broke a string of nine straight outs with a walk to Kent Christian. David Queen followed with a single that smoked the first base line.
Another free pass to Joseph Martin loaded the bases with just one out, but Standifer got his second backward K of the inning and then induced a ground ball to short to end the threat.
After Thompson set the Bears down in order in the top of the fifth, Standifer struck out three more Raiders in the bottom of the frame, but issued a pair of walks as well.
Bradley got a couple of runners on in the top of the sixth when freshman pinch hitter Byron Mantooth reached on the game’s only error and Pace followed with his second hit.
Thompson once again reared back and struck out the next two Bears.
With Standifer gone, Cleveland tried to get something going in the sixth as Queen greeted Lee with a single up the middle, Conner Mitchell drew a one-out walk and Clint Clayton loaded the bases with a two-out single.
Lee got the next batter to fly out to preserve the shutout before both teams went down in order in the final frame.
“It’s good to win close games, and getting a sweep of Cleveland will help us in the district race,” commented Coach Adams.
Pace reached base three times for the Bears with a pair of singles and a walk, while Barnes went 2-for-4 with an RBI.
Queen had half of Cleveland’s four hits with his pair of singles.
“It was two tough losses (to Bradley), but we can’t get down on ourselves. Good things are going to happen,” declared Coach Carson.
Bradley Central 000 030 0 — 3 7 0
Cleveland 000 000 0 — 0 4 1
WP: Brett Standifer (2-0) 5 IP, 10 K’s, 4 BB, 2 hits, 0 ER; LP: Taylor Thompson (1-1) 6 IP, 8 K’s, 4 BB, 7 hits, 3 ER. Save: Seth Lee (S, 1) 2 IP, 0 K, 1 BB, 2 hit, 0 ER. 2B: Logan Blackwell (BC); RBI: Tanner Cox, Austin Calfee, Jacob Barnes (BC). Highlights: Caleb Pace 2-3, SB, BB; Barnes 2-4, RBI, SB; Hunter Rogers 1-4, RBI (BC); David Queen 2-3 (C). Records: Bradley Central 4-2, 3-1 District 5-AAA; Cleveland 2-6, 1-3 District 5-AAA.