Bears wrap up district top spot

By JOE CANNON
Posted 4/17/19

Bradley Central's "Lee Connection" once again led the way Tuesday evening as the Bears secured their second straight District 5-AAA regular season championship and the No. 1 seed for the upcoming …

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Bears wrap up district top spot

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Bradley Central's "Lee Connection" once again led the way Tuesday evening as the Bears secured their second straight District 5-AAA regular season championship and the No. 1 seed for the upcoming tournament.

"Overall our effort off the mound the last two nights has been unbelievable," proclaimed Bear head coach Travis Adams of Lee University senior signee Dylan Standifer and junior commit Riley Black.

"It's nice to have those two guys leading the way. I'm really proud of them."

Both fired complete-game victories to leapfrog Bradley (17-8, 8-1 District 5-AAA) over fourth-ranked East Hamilton (20-7, 9-3) in the district standings. Standifer completed the important series sweep with a four-hitter in a 4-1 victory Tuesday night, after Black blanked the Hurricanes on five hits Monday in Collegedale.

The victories give Bradley the top spot in the league regardless of what they do next week against archrival Cleveland (11-9, 4-6).

"That series (Cleveland) still has something on the line with us able to get an automatic bid into the region (3-AAA Tournament) if we sweep them," related Coach Adams of the 5-AAA rule that a two-game regular season margin in the final standings automatically advances the champs to the the next round. After dropping the season opener to Soddy-Daisy, the Bears have won nine straight district battles, including four by shutout.

Bradley will co-host the Soddy-Daisy Trojan Classic this weekend, taking on Lebanon at noon Friday and Tullahoma at 6 p.m. The Bears will entertain White County at 10 Saturday morning and Central Gwinnett (Ga.) at 1 that afternoon.

Standifer got out the first seven batters straight Tuesday evening before Hurricane Jackson Stone dropped down a bunt single to break up the no-hit bid in the third frame.

East Ham was able to get a pair of runners on base in the fourth, but Standifer stranded them at second and third.

The visitors' only run came in the fifth inning off an infield hit by Blaine Savage, who later scored on Bradley's lone error of the evening. Standifer shut the door with three straight strikeouts as he faced the minimum the rest of the way, thanks in part to a nice 6-4-3 double play keyed by shortstop Ashton Simmons.

"I started out a little bit slow, but I found my fastball and found a way to use it to take command," expressed Standifer. "Later I was able to get my curveball working for me.

"We knew coming into this series that they were ahead of us and it was going to be a tough challenge, but we were ready to go," he proclaimed.

"We had a good, clean effort tonight, only one little error," Coach Adams assessed. "Dylan wasn't rattled. He got out of a second and third jam and then finished strong. He went out there and competed tonight like he always does. He minimized what they (EH) did."

Bradley only managed a trio of hits off Hurricane starter Noah Pridmore and reliever Chase Roberts, but was able to score four times.

After senior Jake Thompson (.308 BA, .380 OBP) stroked an opening inning RBI-single to plate courtesy runner Iverson Vasquez, he and Black (.348, .489) roped back-to-back, opposite field doubles in the third frame to bring home the other runs.

Black's shot into left-center field plated Logan Weeks and Caden Sherlin, who had both walked, to raise his RBI total to 23, while Thompson followed with his team-leading 24th "ribbies," bringing home Vasquez again. 

"Jake (Thompson) had a couple of timely hits and Riley (Black) had a big two-run double," praised Coach Adams. "We put a little bit of pressure on them (EH). We were facing a pretty good arm (Pridmore) and the kid (Roberts) they brought in at the end is a 'shut down' guy."

East Hamilton coach Steve Garland offered a "tip of the cap" to Bradley's "Lee Connection."

“It’s dumbfounding to me how he (Standifer) can catch a game on Monday and come out here the next day and be as fresh as he is, with his legs and arms. And, how Riley Black pitched Monday and caught seven innings tonight. They’ve got something that’s unconventional, but it says something about the mental and physical toughness of those two young men.”

Seeing the versatility and success of his two local recruits must have Lee coach Mark Brew smiling in anticipation of what the pair can bring to the Flames, who are currently enjoying a strong season from former Bear ace Brandon Thompson (2-0, 2 saves).


Game Summary

District 5-AAA

Tuesday evening

at Toby McKenzie Baseball Complex

East Hamilton0000100 — 1 4 1

Bradley Central103000x — 4 3 1

WP: Dylan Standifer (3-1) 7 IP, 4 hits, 0 ER, 4 K's, 0 BB, 1 HBP. LP: Noah Pridmore (EH) 5 IP, 3 hits, 4 ER, 6 K's, 3 BB. 2B: Riley Black, Jake Thompson (BC). RBIs: Black 2, Thompson 2 (BC). LOB: EH 4; BC 2. Highlights: Will Campbell 1-2, HBP, Blaine Savage 1-3, run (EH); Thompson 2-3, 2B, 2 RBIS; Black 1-2, BB, 2B, 2 RBIs (BC). Records: East Hamilton 20-7, 9-3 District 5-AAA; Bradley Central 17-8, 9-1 District 5-AAA.

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