For the third time in the young baseball season Bradley Central and Cleveland clashed on the baseball diamond. After sweeping the regular season series, the Bears picked up their third win in a row with a 9-5 time limit win over the Blue Raiders on opening night of the Ooltewah Invitational.
“It’s cold,” said Bradley coach Travis Adams after the game. “It’s hard on the kids when you are playing in 30-degree weather. But, somebody had to win it and I felt like we probably did enough to win. We were a hit away from kind of breaking it open a couple of times. The bases-loaded double play that got them out of the inning was kind of a killer. We didn’t kick it around too much and did enough.
“I am not pleased by any means,” he continued. “You play games like this without your No. 1 and 2 (pitchers) on the mound and you walk people like we did, that’s not going to be good.”
The Blue Raiders opened the first with a swinging bunt single to pitcher Reed Allison. A fielder’s choice and walk later, Bears starting pitcher Ty King got a fly to right and a strikeout to end the inning.
The Bears got doubles by Charles Davis and Jacob Maynard to take a 1-0 lead.
The Raiders came back in the top half of the second to tie the game 1-1. Nick Miller trotted to first after being hit by a pitch and after loading the bases on a walk and single, Miller scored on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Allison.
The Bears wasted little time regaining the lead in the bottom portion of the inning. Ryan Blair got it started with a single and scored on Jacob Fowler’s perfectly executed hit-and-run double down the left-field line. Fowler made it 3-1 on a Jacob Maynard single.
Cleveland came right back in the top of the third to load the bases with one out on two walks and a Bears’ error, sending Adams to the mound to pull King in favor of Ryan Blair. The Raiders made it a 3-1 game when Blair walked the first batter he faced with the pads full and hit the second to tie the game. The senior righty came back to get the second out with a strikeout and ended the Cleveland run with his second K to end the inning.
“We had the bases loaded a couple of times and didn’t get the big, timely hits like we did the first game,” Cleveland coach Ted Carson said referring to the Raiders’ 9-6 win over Boyd-Buchanan in their first game of the two-game night. “In the first game against Boyd we got some timely hits. We just didn’t do that this game. We had some errors that helped them out also.”
The 3-3 tie lasted all of half an inning after Bears Maynard and Jacob Barnes reached on a walk and single respectively. Both runners scored on a double to deep left field by Blair. A Cleveland error made it a 5-3 Bradley Central ballgame.
The action took no break in the top of the fourth. The Blue Raiders loaded the bases on an error, hit batter and single by Eric Powers, then made it a 6-4 game after scoring a run on a bases-loaded walk before the Bears could close out the inning.
After walking the first batter he faced in the bottom of the frame, Carson pulled Cleveland starter Allison for sophomore right hander Austin Dykes. The Bears’ Maynard showed the young hurler no respect, slamming a single to left that scored two runs. A shot back to the mound by Blair made it a 9-4 game in favor of the Bears.
“Our pitching wasn’t too bad. It was Reed’s first time out this year and he didn’t do too bad. He is a battler. He did pretty good,” Carson said of his senior starter. “Dykes came in and didn’t do too bad. But, we gave them some chances and they hit the ball when they had to.”
With two outs in the top of the fifth Cleveland’s Kimsey Bell launched a shot to deep center for a triple and later raced home on a wild pitch. The Raiders got two more runners on base before a fly to second preserved the Bears’ 9-5 lead before the time limit expired.
I felt like under these conditions it was pretty taxing on the pitchers,” said Adams. “Ty (King) kind of struggled in the (strike) zone a little bit and his pitches got up. I felt like if we were going to score runs and keep putting the pressure back on them, we needed somebody to get out there and fill up the zone. Ryan kind of figured it out.”
The Bears are scheduled to be at home again tonight against Polk County beginning at 7:30. The Blue Raiders make the short trip to Ooltewah to face the Owls at 6:30.
Cleveland 012 11 — 5 6 3
Bradley Central 123 3x — 9 9 1
WP: Ryan Blair (1-0) 5 Ks; LP: Reed Allison. 3B: Kimsey Bell (C). 2B: Charles Chavis, Jacob Maynard, Jacob Fowler, Blair (BC). Other highlights: Blair 3-3, Maynard 2-2 (BC); Eric Powers 2-3 (C). Records: Cleveland 2-6; Bradley Central 7-2.