Special to the Grove Sun
GROVE- With an outstanding pitching performance from left-hander Zack Bergman, the Grove Ridgerunners got just enough defense to stymie their cross county rivals in a Tuesday night twin bill at Jim Beauchamp Park. Striking out 10 of the first 12 Jay batters, Bergman overshadowed a pretty good pitching effort by the Bulldogs’ Ty Moore, in the opening innings of the first game.
After pitching around a walk and a wild pitch in the first, Moore benefited from a well turned 6-4-3 twin killing behind him in the next.
And in the bottom of the third, the Jay hurler pitched his way out of a two-out jam. But while Moore was battling his way out of trouble, Bergman continued to dominate the affair.
In the bottom of the fourth, Adam Steffenson jacked his first of a pair of triples. A subsequent walk put runners on the corners for the home team. With one out Cody Stephenson lined a shot to centerfield, which was misplayed by the Bulldog centerfielder. And while the ball rolled to the fence the Ridgerunners took a 2-0 lead.
It looked as if Jay might have found a chink in Grove’s armor, when an error on J.J. Meeker’s hard hit grounder was followed by a Ty Moore single. But that would prove to be fruitless as Bergman bore down on the next pair of batsmen.
The Bulldogs defense booted their first pair of attempts in the bottom of the fifth that scored Buck Maples. And Steffenson chased home Zack Knox with his second triple of the game, scoring his second run of the game on an infield sacrifice.
After Bergman struck out victims number 12 and 13 in the top of the sixth, Grove added an insurance run in the home half of the frame. Pinch hitter Ty Morrow slapped a single and advance to second on a wild pitch. The speedy Morrow then moved to third and home on back-to-back passed balls.
With a 6-0 lead Morrow shutdown the Bulldogs in relief, to preserve Bergman’s one hit shutout.
After a scoreless first in the scheduled five-inning second game, the Bulldog’s starting pitcher Daylen Close issued back-to-back-to- back walks in the bottom of the second. And with the bases loaded Morrow lofted a perfect squib shot into the right field corner that cleared the bases, giving the ‘Runners a 3-0 lead.
The home team really never looked back. After the visitors went down in order in the top of the frame, the Grove offense exploded in the bottom half. Sending 10 hitters to the dish the Ridgerunners needed four hits combined with two Jay errors to hang another half a dozen on the scoreboard. The inning’s big blow came off of the bat of Kyle Summerfield who lashed a two-RBI double and eventually scored his second run of the game. Steffenson got his third RBI of the day by cashing in on Trent Phillip’s RBI single to make the score 9-0.