Even Mother Nature couldn’t dampen a double-digit strikeout pitching performance, a nine-hit offensive attack and a pair of double steals for scores as Bradley Central put together “a complete game” for a District 5-AAA victory Monday night.
“This was a good win for us. We did what you want to to — played good defense, got timely hitting and a strong pitching performance,” declared head coach Travis Adams as his Bears claimed a 7-2 win over Rhea County at the McKenzie Baseball Complex. “We got the momentum early and kept it.”
“Jordan (Whitmire) struggled a little with the first two batters then settled down and set the tone for us,” Adams said of the senior ace’s four-hit, 11-K showing to even his record at 3-3 on the season.
“Offensively we scrapped a lot at the plate and came up with some big two-out hits,” the Bear mentor remarked. “Defensively, Cal (Pickel, the sophomore center fielder) made some very tough catches in the gap look routine. Those could have easily been extra-base hits.”
Monday’s game time was moved up two hours to try to beat the rain and Mother Nature may have something to say about tonight’s contest in Evensville as the same two teams are scheduled to cap their home-and-home series.
With just a few raindrops every now and then at the start of the game, Rhea County’s Will Clark led off with a walk, stole second and came around to score when Brent Smith rapped a double into the left-center field gap.
Whitmire responded by getting the next batter to ground out and then posted the first of four straight two-strikeout innings.
Bradley’s (13-10-1, 3-9 District 5-AAA) offense answered with a four-run, two-out rally in its first at bat to give Whitmire a comfortable lead to work with the rest of the way.
Senior Dylan Johnston (.435 OBP) got the ball rolling for the Bears with a one-out single before Robbie Works, Caleb Pippenger, Jacob Maynard and Cal Pickel (.412 OBP) came through with four straight two-out hits. Pippenger’s hit was a double which drove in a run, while Works and Maynard also plated teammates.
The 4-spot was capped by the first double steal in which Pickel took off for second and while the Eagles tried to make a play on him, Maynard broke for the plate and slid around the catcher’s attempted tag for the score.
Rhea County (9-12, 3-8) picked up its other run when Clark singled to open the third frame and once again Smith doubled him home with a shot off the left-field fence for a two-bagger.
Whitmitre’s response was the same as the first inning with a groundout and back-to-back strikeouts to quell the uprising.
The Bear bats got back to work in the bottom of the frame with Works and Pippenger both reaching on infield hits. Works later scored on a wild pitch, while courtesy runner (for Pippenger, the Bear catcher) Chandler Duggan stole second and came in to score on a groundout by Pickel.
Bradley added the final run of the contest without benefit of a hit in the bottom of the fifth. Maynard reached base for the third time in the contest, this one thanks to an error, advanced to second on another error, moved to third on a wild pitch and came in on the back end of the other Bear double steal attempt, which saw Baylor Terrell, who had been hit by a pitch, thrown out at second.
Works also reached base three times in the contest to improve his on base percentage to .500 on the season. He went 2-for-3 to up his batting average to .441, plus he was hit by a pitch and scored twice.
Pippenger (.388 OBP) was 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI, while Maynard (.303 OBP) singled, walked reached on an error, drove in a run and stole home twice.
Whitmire went the distance on the hill, scattering four Eagle hits and handing out three free passes (two walks and a hit batsman) while posting his highest strikeout total of the season, giving him a team-leading 51 Ks. He is also carrying a 1.96 ERA and a 1.04 WHIP in just over 46 innings so far this season.
“We beat the rain and got a good win,” proclaimed Adams as the fist half of the game was relatively dry, while the later innings saw a steady light rain come and go.
BEARS 7, EAGLES 2
Rhea County 101 000 0 — 2 4 3
Bradley Central 402 010 x — 7 9 1
WP: Jordan Whitmire (3-3) 7 IP, 11 Ks, 4 H, 2 BB, 1 HBP, 2 ER. LP: Jalen Smith 4 IP, 1 K, 8 H, 3 BB, 6 ER. 2B: Brent Smith 2 (RC); Caleb Pippenger (BC). RBIs: Brent Smith, Jalen Smith (RC); Robbie Works, Jacob Maynard, Cal Pickel, Pippenger (BC). Highlights: Works 2-for-3, HBP, RBI, 2 r; Pippenger 2-for-4, 2B, RBI; Maynard 1-for-1, BB, reached on error, stole home twice, RBI, 2 r. Records: Rhea County 9-12, 3-8 District 5-AAA; Bradley Central 13-10-1, 3-6 District 5-AAA.