MURFREESBORO — Bradley Central only managed one hit in Tuesday's TSSAA Class AAA State Baseball Tournament opener, but that was enough."It was a grinder," commented veteran head coach Travis Adams …
MURFREESBORO — Bradley Central only managed one hit in Tuesday's TSSAA Class AAA State Baseball Tournament opener, but that was enough.
"It was a grinder," commented veteran head coach Travis Adams after his Bears, ranked 10th in the latest TBCA state poll, knocked off No. 3 Riverdale 2-1 at Oakland High School in Murfreesboro.
"It was a great environment. Riverdale had a lot of fans there and we had a good crowd. There was a lot of excitement and a great pitcher's duel."
Bradley ace Riley Black (8-3, 1.05 ERA) and Riverdale lefty Joey Mitchell dueled with very similar pitching lines — both with eight strikeouts, five walks and allowing just one earned run.
The differences came as Black, who went the distance, scattered seven hits and stranded 10 Warriors, while Mitchell allowed just a one-out double to Bear senior Jake Thompson in the sixth to break up his no-hit bid, getting all but the final out before being pulled.
"Both pitchers worked out of some jams and kept the other team in check. Riley (Black) battled and there was no thought of not letting him go all the way," commented Adams of Black reaching the 120 limit on the final pitch of the game. "You've got to give it all you've got to get that first win and he was rolling there at the end.
“It was a nail-biter,” he summarized. “Their kid really held us down but Jake (Thompson) got the hit at the right time. Riley (Black) turned in a really big performance too. The defense behind him was outstanding.
“The play (left fielder Logan) Weeks made in the fourth inning with (shortstop) Ashton Simmons bearing down on him was a really big play. They almost collided but Weeks made a diving catch and got us out of the inning,” Adams related of the run-saving play.
With its first state tournament win since 2007, Bradley (23-14) advances to the second round against fourth-ranked Independence (26-11) this afternoon at 1:30 EDT. The Eagles rallied to nip No. 7 Arlington 3-2 last night.
The winner moves to the state semifinals Thursday afternoon at 3. The Bear-Eagle loser will have to turn around and play an elimination game at 6 this evening against the winner of this morning's Riverdale (25-13)-Arlington (18-17) contest.
On the other end of the bracket, being played at Siegel High School, ninth-ranked Summit (26-11) had little trouble with No. 5 Science Hill (27-13) in a 7-3 opener, while top-ranked Farragut (39-3) held off No. 2 Bartlett (31-13) by a 4-2 tally.
Science Hill and Bartlett played this morning, while Summit and Farragut tangle this afternoon.
The two teams that emerge from the double-elimination portion of the brackets will square off for the state title Friday evening at Middle Tennessee State University.
As it had been doing lately Bradley got plenty of runners on base early, two in each of its first three at bats, but unlike previous postseason outings, it was unable to score.
Likewise Riverdale got a pair of baserunners on in its first four tries with nothing to show for it.
"We got guys on but couldn't get the two-out hit when we needed it," stated Adams.
After Mitchell sat down six straight in the fourth and fifth frames, the Bears were able to get the goose egg off the board in the top of the sixth.
Senior Cade Sherlin drew a free pass to open the rally before moving to second on a wild pitch. After going to third on a ground out by Black, he scored when Thompson drilled a shot that pinged the left-center field fence for his seventh double and 32nd RBI of the season.
"Jake stepped into that ball. We thought it had a chance to go, but it hit off the wall," related Coach Adams.
"He almost drove in a run in his previous at bat when he hit a bullet but their (Riverdale's) second baseman saved a run with a diving stab of it and was able to double off our base runner at first to end the inning."
Senior Eli Wilson came on to pinch run for Thompson and was able to score what turned out to be the game-winning run when junior Tucker Still reached on a two-out error by Riverdale’s 6-foot-11 first baseman Brayden Siren, a Middle Tennessee State commit, who struggled to get a bead on the ball, drifted far to his right and the ball glanced off his glove.
"That was one of those high pop flies that was misplayed and we were able to score off it," Adams assessed.
The Warriors threatened in the bottom of the inning when Blake Merwin stroked his third hit of the game, but Black was able to strikeout the next batter to end the at bat.
The Bears also continued another recent trend in the final frame, allowing Riverdale to rally for a run. After a lead off walk to pinch hitter Eli Delk, Paxton Hughes and Siren stroked back-to-back hits to cut the deficit in half.
With runners on the corners, pinch runner Evan Staples took second on a defensive indifference before the Lee University commit nailed down the victory with his final K.
"We did what we had to do and made the plays there at the end to get the win," proclaimed Adams, whose team made just one error in the contest.
TSSAA Spring Fling
Class AAA State
at Oakland HS
Bradley Central 000 002 0 — 2 1 1
Riverdale 000 000 1 — 1 7 2
WP: Riley Black (8-3, 1.05 ERA) 7 IP, 7 hits, 1 ER, 8 Ks, 5 BBs, 0 HBP. LP: Joey Mitchell (R) 6.2 IP, 1 hit, 1 ER, 8 K, 5 BB. 2B: Jake Thompson (7)(BC); Blake Merwin (R). RBIs: Thompson (32)(BC); Brayden Siren (R). LOB: BC 5; Riverdale 10. Highlights: Thompson 1-3,2B, RBI; Caden Sherlin ROE, BB, run; Black 2 intentional walks (BC): Merwin 3-3, 2B, Siren 2-4, RBI Paxton Hughes 1-2, 2 BB (R). Records: No. 10 Bradley Central 23-14; No. 3 Riverdale 25-13.
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