Wednesday afternoon, including a 19-hour weather delay, it was the Bears claiming a mirror image outcome to keep a five-year run of the two local teams splitting their regular season games with the road team winning each time.
“In my time here (five years), I’ve never lost to them here (at Mike Turner Field) and never beaten them at our place,” explained Bradley head coach Travis Adams. “We caught some breaks today and the layoff didn’t affect us.”
The game originally started at 7 p.m. Tuesday evening, but was halted an hour later due to lightning in the area. Although it never rained, with lightning still flashing 60 minutes later it was decided to postpone the rest of the game until Wednesday afternoon.
Both starting pitchers, Bradley’s Nate Mills and Walker Valley’s Jared Broome had each given up just one hit and not allowed a run when play was stopped Tuesday evening with one out in the bottom of the fourth frame.
When play resumed Wednesday at 3 p.m., coach Adams sent Jonathan Hodges to the hill. The senior submariner inherited an 0-2 count on the first batter and needed just four pitches to not only strike him out but he then completed the inning with a groundout.
After Mills struck out two and walked a pair, plus gave up the lone Mustang hit in the first 3 1/3, Hodges tossed the final 3 2/3 without giving up a hit. He notched four Ks and walked just one for the only Mustang base runner against him.
“Nate had a great start and we probably could have brought him back because he only threw 44 pitches, but we decided to go with Jonathan and he did a great job of pounding the strike zone and getting ground balls,” coach Adams praised.
Hodges picked up his first pitching victory of the season when the Bear bats came through in the sixth inning with a pair of hits to combine with a walk and a balk for the game’s two scores.
Senior Dylan Johnston started the rally with a one-out single up the middle and moved to second when classmate Chase Wiseman, who had singled on Tuesday night, drew his second free pass of the game.
Senior Robbie Works, who leads the team in hitting with a .422 batting average this season, then stroked a single up the middle for his 15th RBI of the year as Johnson beat the throw to the plate for the game’s first run.
With Wiseman moving to third and Works taking second on the throw, a balk by the Mustang hurler brought home a second run a moment later.
“We finally got something going (offensively) there in the sixth with Dylan and Robbie coming through with big hits and Chase having a good at bat to draw the walk,” commented coach Adams. “Although we only had four hits (in the game), we hit the ball well, but several were just right at people.”
“We played good defense as well. Some of our guys who struggled at the plate a little didn’t let that affect them in the field,” he added. “Corey (Loftis) struck out twice, but didn’t let that get him down. He helped us with a great diving catch in the fifth inning that prevented the leadoff batter from getting on. He also threw out a base runner who was trying to stretch a single into a double. It takes all aspects of the game (hitting, defense, pitching) to win games.”
Hodges made a great defensive play to help the cause as well when he stabbed a hot shot off the bat off Mustang cleanup hitter Caleb Longley to open the bottom of the seventh inning.
Walker Valley also had some exciting defensive plays in the contest as well, including center fielder Bradley Smith making a diving catch to end the top of the seventh and prevent another Bear run.
Weather permitting, both teams are scheduled to be back in action today with Bradley (11-8-1, 2-4 District 5-AAA) traveling to Chattanooga Central for a 7 p.m. game, while Walker Valley (8-7, 5-2) entertains Baylor at the same time.
BEARS 2, MUSTANGS 0
Bradley Central 000 002 0 — 2 4 0
Walker Valley 000 000 0 — 0 1 0
WP: Jonathan Hodges (1-0) 3.2 IP, 4 Ks, 0 H, 1 BB, 0 ER. LP: Logan Longwith 3.0 IP, 4 Ks, 3 H, 1 BB, 1 HBP, 2 ER. RBIs: Robbie Works (BC). Highlights: Chase Wiseman 1-for-1, 2 BB, Nate Mills 3.1 IP, 2 Ks, 2 BB, 1 H, 0 ER (BC); Jared Broome 4 IP, 3 Ks, 1 BB, 1 H, 0 ER (WV). Records: Walker Valley 8-6, 6-2 District 5-AAA; Bradley Central 11-8-1, 2-4 District 5-AAA.