Bradwell connected on back-to-back hits, plating two runs in the top of the sixth inning and busting the game open for a 7-1 win over rival Liberty County High School Friday.
First-year Tiger coach Jeff Polk is the first Bradwell coach to claim a win over cross-town rival this year in any sport.
“We had solid pitching peformances tonight,” Polk said, “and finally started to hit the ball the way were are capable of in the later innings.”
Friday morning’s rain threatened to postpone the game, but a little sun and about 250 pounds of turf-drying agent made the game possible.
Weather wasn’t the only problem for the Panthers. Liberty started the game without three starters and lost a fourth to an injury in the first inning.
“Our hitting was a struggle tonight,” Panther coach Tony Glazer said. “It really hurt our line-up having four starters out due to injury. But I give Bradwell credit. Their pitchers threw really well tonight.”
Bradwell’s Maxwell Ashe led the Tigers at that plate, going three for three.
In the first, Tiger freshman centerfielder Evan Crystal throttled a hit past Liberty’s outfielders, giving him a triple with two outs. Crystal would have scored when the next Tiger batter hit a scorching fly ball to the outfield, but Liberty outfielder Vincent Smith, made a full-body, diving catch for the final out.
Bradwell’s starting pitcher Sage Sammons showed control in the bottom of the first. He moved the ball around the strike zone and got the final Panther hitter to swing at an off speed pitch for the third out. Sammons finished with three strikeouts.
The Tigers scored first in the top of the fourth, when Chris Bell scored from off a sacrifice RBI from Stefon Felton.
Liberty threatened with bases loaded later that inning, but got only Quindon Montgomery across on a passed ball to tie the game.
Ashe and senior first baseman Brandon Woodard both had hits and scored two runs in the top of the sixth. Bradwell added four more during the final frame with an Ashe double and singles from Bell and Felton.
“We just didn’t get the clutch hitting we needed,” Glazer said. “On the other hand, Bradwell got great clutch hitting tonight and scored most of their runs with two out hits.”
Bell relieved Sammons to work a couple of innings until Felton finished the game.
Liberty’s Curtis Michelowicz finished with 5 2/3 of work on the mound, striking out six. Montgomery was 1-for-3 with a stolen base and a run scored.
“I thought that Curtis pitched a great game, keeping them off balance. Our hitting was a struggle tonight. It really hurt our lineup, having four starters out due to injury,” Glazer said.
Liberty has three games next week, Portal on Monday, Savannah Country Day on Wednesday and next Friday they resume the rivalry series at Bradwell.
Bradwell travels to Class A state champion Charlton County Tuesday, before facing Liberty on Friday.