Allowing just three runs in each of their previous four games, the Bears gave up 10 to the Irish in the first inning before ultimately falling 13-3 in a five-inning affair.
“If you take that one inning out, we had a very productive opening week,” proclaimed Bradley head coach Travis Adams. “We looked tired (Sunday) and just let it get away from us. It’s hard to recover once you get down like that.”
Notre Dame (5-1) went on to face East Hamilton in the championship where the Hurricanes claimed their second straight Wildcat Classic crown in a 10-9 slugfest.
Now 3-3-1 on the season, Bradley will return to the McKenzie Baseball Complex Tuesday evening for a battle with neighboring Polk County before being a co-host of the Ooltewah Invitational Thursday through Saturday.
After a 45-minute delay to wait for the umpire to arrive, Sunday’s action started off with a bang for the Bears as junior Brently White led off the game with a double off the left-center field fence. A sacrifice bunt by senior Dylan Johnston moved him to third and Chase Wiseman brought him in with a ground out.
Playing their fifth game in four days, Bradley’s pitching staff was running thin, so Adams gave the ball to a sophomore for his first varsity action. Five of the first seven Irish batters ripped hits and after a pitching change to a freshman, the next five reached base as well.
The third Bear hurler of the frame was greeted with a two-run double, but that would be the only hit senior Robbie Works would give up in 3.1 innings of on the hill.
“Looking back at it I probably should have started Works and then brought in the younger guys later,” second-guessed Adams. “When you get to this point in a tournament you don’t want to overwork your arms and you often give some younger guys some experience.”
Despite having gone the distance in a seven-inning, 8-3 victory over East Hamilton Thursday evening, Works set down out eight Irish in a row after the initial hit and only one other reached base on a fielding error.
Trailing 10-1 going into the top of the fifth, sophomore Cal Pickel proved a spark for the Bears with a leadoff single. Pinch hitter Chandler Duggan followed with a walk and both came around to score a few minutes late when junior Caleb Pippenger laced a two-run single.
Not wanting to wear Works out, Adams made another pitching change going into the bottom of the inning and Notre Dame responded with the first four batters reaching base with three of them scoring to end the game early.
“Robbie came in and did a great job of shutting them down and we never really got our bats going to get back in the game,” Adams remarked. White’s double, along with Pickel and Pippenger’s singles were the only Bear hits.
Bradley had a better outcome Saturday with an 11-3 win over Meigs County and a 3-3 tie with the Gwinnett Barons, a seven-time national champion home-school squad from outside Atlanta.
Ryan Blair (1-0) went the distance on the bump against the neighboring Tigers. The big junior struck out seven, walked four and surrendered five hits and just two earned runs.
Pickel led the Bear offense, going 2-for-3 with three RBIs, while Duggan had a two-run double. Junior Jacob Maynard scored twice and smacked a double, while Jacob Fowler and White also ripped two-baggers.
Against Gwinett, Wiseman and Pippenger cranked back-to-back “jacks” in the opening frame, but the Barons plated a pair of unearned runs in the top of the sixth to even the score. Even with an extra inning of play the deadlock wasn’t broken and the game called a tie.
Senior pitcher Jonathan Fowler went for the first 4.1 innings, striking out four and walking none. After the Barons tied the game off the first reliever, senior Jordan Whitmire came on for the final 2.2 innings, recording five Ks and not giving up a hit.
At the plate, Pippenger and Works went 2-for-4, while Wiseman “went yard” and Johnston had a RBI-single in a nine-hit attack.
IRISH 13, BEARS 3
Bradley Central 100 02 — 3 3 3
Notre Dame (10)00 02 — 13 11 2
WP: Ryan McConnell 4 IP, 4 K, 4 BB, 2 H, 3 ER. LP: Jacob Barnes (0-1) 0.2 IP, 5 H, 1 K, 5 ER. 2B: Brently White (BC); Nick Chambers 2, Austin Coombs, Zac Swartout (ND). RBIs: Caleb Pippenger 2, Chase Wiseman (BC); Chambers 3, Swartout 2, Sheldon Brogdon 2, Coombs, J. Bostain, M. Roueche (ND). Highlight: Robbie Works (BC) 3.1 IP, 2 Ks, 1 H, 0 ER. Records: Bradley Central 3-3-1.
BEARS 11, TIGERS 3
Bradley Central 303 020 3 — 11 8 4
Meigs County 200 100 0 — 3 5 2
WP: Ryan Blair (1-0) 7 IP, 7 K, 4 BB, 5 H, 2 ER. 2B: Brently White, Jacob Fowler, Jacob Maynard, Chandler Duggan (BC). RBIs: Cal Pickel 3, Duggan 2, Chase Wiseman, Fowler (BC). Highlight: Pickel (BC) 2-for-3 3 RBIs. Records: Bradley Central 3-2.
BEARS 3, BARONS 3
Gwinnett Barons 100 002 00 — 3 9 0
Bradley Central --201 000 00 — 3 9 3
HR: Caleb Pippenger, Chase Wiseman (BC). RBIs: Dylan Johnston, Pippenger, Wiseman (BC). Higlights: Pippenger 2-for-4 HR, Robbie Works 2-for-4, Jonathan Hodges 4.1 IP, 4 K 0 BB, 1 ER, Jordan Whitmire 2.2 IP, 5 Ks, 0 H, 0 BB (BC). Records: Bradley Central 3-2-1.