Bradley Central can hold its own in one-run high school baseball games. Eight times this season the Bears were involved in nail-biting, one-run contests and they came away winning four times and losing four others.
The break-even mark was reached Monday night when Bradley Central (24-11) edged Warren County, 2-1, in the Region 3-3A semifinals at Toby McKenzie Baseball Complex in Cleveland.
“At this point in the year, you’ll take wins any way you can get them,” Bears coach Travis Adams said in a telephone interview. “Andy (Bunch) dominated them on the mound; we kept them at bay and dodged a couple of bullets and I can’t remember Warren County having more than one runner on base at the same time.
“We know what we do well. We can pitch it and catch it pretty good. Sometimes our hitting is up and down and our defense made some plays tonight. (Shortstop) Pete Williams made plays to end threats that were ESPN-type plays. He didn’t have a good day at the plate (0-for-3 with two strikeouts), but if you can’t beat them with your bat, make plays with the glove. Pete takes pride in his defense and takes as many ground balls as he does batting practice swings. It means that much to him.”
The Bears will travel to Cookeville on Wednesday and play for the region championship. Cookeville beat Walker Valley, 7-5, in the other semifinal game.
Bradley is gunning for its second region title in three years.
Bunch (8-1) went the distance and allowed just three hits and one run with two strikeouts and one walk. He threw 83 pitches, 54 for strikes, and dropped his ERA to 0.94 on the season.
With two out in the third inning, Bradley’s Briar Lee smacked a line-drive single to center field. Dylan Standifer crushed a RBI triple to center for the game’s first run. It was Standifer’s 16th extra-base hit of the season and second triple.
The Bears pushed the lead to 2-0 in the fifth when Preston Taylor singled to center and Tucker Cox ripped a run-scoring double to center and Freddy Johnson, running for Taylor, raced home with what proved to be the winning run.
Warren County scored a run in the sixth, but Bunch retired the Pioneers in order in the seventh and the Bears could celebrate the win.
“Our kids were really focused for this game and they took a lot of pride in playing at home,” Adams said.
Warren County 000 001 0 – 1 3 0
Bradley Central 001 010 x – 2 5 2
Hollingsworth, Keele (5) and Helton; Bunch and Taylor.
(Contact Larry Fleming at email@example.com and on Twitter @larryfleming44)