Bears draw Riverdale in opening round

By JOE CANNON
Posted 5/19/19

Although his sleuth has to open the TSSAA State Tournament against a Murfreesboro team, Bradley Central coach Travis Adams is happy with his Bears' draw."Riverdale's crowd shouldn't be a big deal. …

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Bears draw Riverdale in opening round

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Although his sleuth has to open the TSSAA State Tournament against a Murfreesboro team, Bradley Central coach Travis Adams is happy with his Bears’ draw.

“Riverdale’s crowd shouldn’t be a big deal. Once the game starts our guys are concentrating on playing for each other,” proclaimed the veteran diamond mentor making his first trip to the TSSAA state tournament since he was the starting shortstop on the 1994 state champion Bradley squad. 

“The draw couldn’t have gone much better. We avoided the big guys (top-ranked Farragut 38-3, No. 7 Bartlett 31-12 and 11th-ranked Science Hill 27-12), but at this level everybody is good and has strong Nos. 1 and 2 pitchers.”

Bradley (22-14) will take on Riverdale (25-12), ranked 13th in the latest TBCA poll, Tuesday at 5 p.m. EDT on Oakland High School’s field in Murfreesboro.

“Sure they (Riverdale) get to sleep in their own beds and practice on their own field and we’re staying in a motel and using a strange field to practice on, but baseball is pretty much the same everywhere.

“Field dimensions are pretty much the same. The game is played the same. When you are playing on this stage those are the things that matter. Once that first pitch is made, it’s baseball,” he summarized.

Riverdale has yet to be beaten in the postseason, winning seven straight games by a combined 52-12 difference, including the District 7 and Region 4 titles, plus knocking off Soddy-Daisy 10-4 Friday evening in the substate.

“We’ve seen them. They have a bunch of good athletes and strong arms that throw in the 80s,” commented Adams. “Soddy stayed with them until they (Riverdale) had one big inning.”

The Bears and Warriors are on the same end of the bracket with Arlington (18-16) and 15th-ranked Independence (25-11), who will square in Tuesday’s second game at Oakland.

“Arlington’s coach Chris Ring and I have coached summer teams together and are good friends. He keeps me apprised of what’s happening in West Tennessee,” Adams related.

“His team got hot at the right time and was able to win some big games in the tournaments.”

The Tigers started out 6-10, but have gone 12-6 down the stretch, with three of those losses to Bartlett. Arlington defeated second-ranked Collierville (35-4-1) 4-3 in Friday evening’s Sectional.

Independence, which has won 13 of its last 16 games, nipped District 9 and Region 5 champ fourth-ranked Station Camp (29-12) 1-0 in Friday’s substate play.

Tuesday’s losers will play Wednesday morning at 11 EDT, while the winners will tangle at 1:30 p.m. The morning winner and afternoon loser will play an elimination game Wednesday evening at 6.

The Oakland end of the double-elimination bracket will wrap up Thursday at 3 p.m., with an “if necessary” game at 5:30, to determine who will be in Friday state championship game Friday at 6.

Over at Siegel High School, Summit (24-11) and Science Hill will open play Tuesday, with a Top 10 battle between Farragut and Bartlett set for the nightcap.

The foursome will follow the same bracket format as the teams at Oakland to determine who will be the other squad vying for the state crown.

Bradley comes into its first state tournament since 2007 having swept through the Region 3 and Sectional game with a 19-8 scoring advantage over Cookeville, Soddy-Daisy and Lincoln County.

The Bear offense (.267 BA, .398 OBP) has averaged 6.2 runs per game, but the pitching (3.84 team ERA) and defense (69 errors) has given up 4.6 an outing.

Co-District 5 Players of the Year Riley Black and Dylan Standifer continue to lead the pack.

The Lee University connection have both been starters since their freshman seasons and have been stellar at the plate, behind it and on the mound once again this season.

Black, a junior Flame commit, leads the team  in batting average (.373), on-base percentage (.500), slugging percentage .578, OPS (1.078) and RBIs (34). The south-side swinging No. 3 hitter also has eight doubles, a pair of triples and three shots out of the park in his 38 hits.

On the bump, Black has been the team ace, going 7-3 with a 1.52 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP. The right-hander has struck out 75 and walked just 24 in 59.1 innings pitched. He has a stretch of 34 straight innings without giving up an earned run during the regular season.

Standifer, a senior Flame signee and two-time All-State quarterback, leads the sleuth in hits (40) and doubles (11), plus is second with a .360 BS, .486 OBP, .523 Slg., 1.008 OPS. He also has a couple of three-baggers and stroked a home run in Wednesday’s region championship win over Soddy-Daisy.

He has driven in 17 runs from the leadoff spot in the order and scored 18 times himself, plus his courtesy runners have added several scores as well.

On the hill, Standifer is 3-2, with a save, notching 29 Ks and handing out 18 free passes in 42.1 IP.

Senior Jake Thompson has also been a triple threat, swinging a strong bat, playing good defense at first base and being effective on the bump.

The Bear cleanup man is hitting .304, with a .431 OBP with a half-dozen doubles and a trio of homers in his 31 hits while plating 31 runs. 

The lefty is 3-2 when toeing the rubber with a 3.26 ERA and 36 strikeouts in 30.1 IP.

Thompson, Black and Standifer are tied for the team lead with 23 walks, with the former being plunked twice and the latter two-hit five times each.         

Senior sidewinder Jake Prock (3-0, 1 save) has proven to be a valuable assest out of the pen, with 14 relief appearances posting a 1.96 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP.

Juniors Logan Weeks (.269, .389) and Tucker Still (.293, .480) lead the Bears in runs scored with 36 and 35 respectively, and have combined to drive in 42 scores.

Weeks has delivered eight doubles and the same-winning home run in Friday’s 6-4 win over Lincoln County in the Sectionals, while Still has five two-baggers and a triple in his 27 hits.

Senior Ryan Giovengo (.253, .388) has four two-baggers in 23 safeties with 18 RBIs and 17 runs scored, while classmate Freddy Johnson (.235, .276) has delivered in the clutch with a half-dozen doubles and a couple of three-baggers in his 23 hits for 16 “ribbies” and 13 runs scored.

The Bear seniors have made it to the substate three times, but this is their first time being able to qualify for the state.

“No matter who we are facing, we’re going to concentrate on doing what we need to do,” proclaimed Coach Adams.

“We’ve got to make outs, outs. Stay out of big innings. Play clean and stay in the moment.”

He added, “All of these teams (in the state tourney) have 1-2 big-name guys, but the rest are just normal high school players. We feel like if we play our game, we can compete with anybody. We’re going to go over and give it our best shot.” 

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