Bradley Busts Loose, Gets Rare Easy One In 5AAA

Peace’s Bat, Simmons’ Arm Sparks 11-1 Rout Of Mustangs

Tuesday, April 13, 2021 - by James Beach

CLEVELAND, Tenn. – Dakota Peace is everything Bradley Central baseball boss Travis Adams has been preaching as his Bear squad makes their way towards playoff baseball in May.

 

The Bradley sophomore has slowly been working his way up from the bottom of the batting lineup, finding himself with nowhere else to go after cementing himself in the leadoff spot for the first time this week.

 

“Coach has been really emphasizing making the other team play defense.

I struggled early in the year until I started shortening my swing to time up some of the harder throwers in the league, and all of a sudden I started barreling up some balls,” said Peace after doing precisely that a couple of times last night as the Bears broke loose for their biggest night offensively of the season.

 

No team in District 5AAA has scored fewer runs than  the Bears coming into Tuesday evening’s battle with Walker Valley, and the fact no team had surrendered fewer runs than Bradley is exactly what made last night’s 11-1 five-inning win over Walker Valley so satisfying.

 

Peace barreled up three solid hits, including a pair of two-run doubles, and pitcher Ashton Simmons did his part, limiting the Mustangs to a lone hit in the surprisingly easy win. The Bears had been involved in five league games decided by two runs or less, and given the fact they probably do a better job of manufacturing runs than any other 5AAA squad, it is little reason Adams had reason to smile afterwards.

 

“We have been preaching we needed to find ways to make somebody else besides the opposing pitchers get us out. If you put it in play, you have a chance. We got some timely hits tonight and that paid off. Dakota is somebody who has started to pick it up. We wanted to get him as many at bats as possible and that means the top of the lineup. He helps everybody out by seeing a lot of pitches and getting us going,” Adams said.

 

Simmons had been hitting leadoff and had slid down to the two hole to accommodate Peace’s hot stick, which basically gives the Bears a pair of top of the order bats to get things going.

 

“He (Peace) has really stepped it up and with the way we play small ball, it gives me a chance to bunt more and get him over into scoring position. That’s how we play,” said Simmons, who did just that to get Bradley’s first run across.

 

Peace led off the third with a single to left and Simmons put down a perfect bunt for a hit. When the ball was thrown away trying to make the play, Peace came all the way around for a 1-0 lead and Simmons hustled to third on the play. Cooper Casteel then hit an opposite field liner to left to make it 2-0.

 

The Mustangs, who have now lost three straight in the league to fall out of second place behind the Bears, got one run back after Simmons gave up his lone hit, a double just inside the third base line. An error at short moved Aiden Gibson to third and he scored on a ground out to make it 2-1 and it looked as if it would be another tight one.

 

Two runs in the fourth and a mammoth seven-run fifth, though, changed all that in a hurry. Aiden McClary drew a walk in the fourth and two outs later Landon Kibler worked a bases on balls to bring Peace to the plate for a two-run double in the gap to make it 4-1.

 

A leadoff walk in the fifth to Ethan Lambreth chased WV starter Ryan Lay and was a harbinger of things to come. A walk and error on a sac bunt attempt and another walk loaded the bases for McClary who delivered a run-scoring single. Three straight walks with the bases juiced brought in three more and Peace doubled to plate runs nine and ten and a grounder by Casteel with the bases still loaded invoked the run rule walk off.

 

The seven-run inning tied the Bears season-high for runs in a game let alone an inning.

 

“As a team we did some really good things tonight, but honestly, they lost the game as much we won it in that last inning. It was nice to see those runs and it made my job easy. I had them lunging at a lot of pitches in the dirt, so my main thing was getting their bats moving. It was a good win, especially being able to complete the sweep,” said Simmons, the Lee College signee who struck out eight on the night, including with curves in the dirt in which the catcher had to record the putout.

 

Peace had three hits while McClary added two as the Bears had seven hits on the night. Simmons got the win with a 78-pitch complete game, facing just two men over the minimum.

 

Bradley improves to 5-3 in league play which ties them with Cleveland, one game behind league leader McMinn County. Walker Valley falls to 5-5 and sits alone fourth spot.

 

WALKER VALLEY       000 10 –  1  1 2

BRADLEY CENTRAL   002 27 – 11 7 1

Lay, Minnix (5), Martinez (5) and Curtis; Simmons and Lambreth.

 

(Contact James Beach at 1134james@gmail.com)


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