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Tigers play small ball to beat R. Hill
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After watching his team either pop out or strike out for eight of 11 outs, Bradwell Institute baseball coach Rhett Hellgren was willing to do anything to get the Tigers to put the ball in play.
The first-year coach told No. 4 hitter Nick Franks to lay down a bunt, defying two of baseball’s commandments — never bunt with one of your best hitters and never bunt with two outs  and the bases empty.
Franks complied, laid down the bunt and beat the throw to first base. Three of the next five batters bunted and the Tigers scored four runs to overcome a three run deficit and defeat Richmond Hill, 4-3 on Wednesday.
“I’m a big believer in bunting and putting pressure on the defense,” Hellgren said. “Richmond Hill is no slouch of a team. They’re a good ball club. It shows you what we could possibly have. They’re a good ball club and had trouble covering bunts, and if that’s what we have to do to put the ball in play then we’ll do that.”
Franks relieved starter Steven Dill in the fifth inning and closed down the Wildcat (7-3) batters in the game’s final three innings, only allowing one hit.
One day after their first win of the season, the Tigers (2-8) fell behind 3-0 to Richmond Hill and had no answer for starting pitcher Alex Tucker.
With two outs in the bottom of the fourth inning and trailing 3-0, Bradwell had only one base runner and he reached on a walk.
That’s when Hellgren looked over to Bradwell basketball coach David Jones and former BI coach Jim Akins and hollered, “I’m the Coach Jones of baseball”
“I got upset. I saw too many strikeouts and popups,” Hellgren said. “Sometimes the kids don’t know how crazy a coach can be and I was going to bunt every one of them. I wanted to show to the kids that they are going to put the ball in play and I’d bunt everybody. I have kids who can smack the ball and they’re bunting.”
After Franks reached first, he stole second base and advanced to third off Dustin Belletty’s hard-hit line drive to left field. Dill followed with a bunt to score Franks and the favored  Wildcats, who defeated Bradwell 14-0 earlier this season, became rattled.
Tucker hit Dylan Brown with a pitch, and then Kentrell Hargrove scored Belletty with a bunt.
Next, Daniel Materne scored Dill with a bunt and Brown took advantage of an erroneous throw to cross the plate.
“We are doing things differently,” Hellgren said. “This is not the same old Bradwell. These boys are excited, I’m excited and we’re going to play some ball. People need to come check us out because you’re not going to see this style of baseball anywhere else.”
In the top half of the fourth inning, Richmond Hill scored a run, but left the bases loaded thanks to clutch pitching from Dill and two stellar defensive plays.
First, Hargrove made a running catch at the left-field fence to save two runs. Then, with the bases loaded and the infield in, second baseman DeAnte Day ran behind first base to scoop up a blooper and out sprinted the Wildcat runner to the bag for the third out.
Bradwell hopes to keep the good times rolling as they travel to Savannah High for a 4:30 p.m. game today and to Baxley for an 11 a.m. double-header with Appling County on Saturday.
Regarding a potential letdown against woeful Savannah, Hellgren said he told his club he wants them to come out with more pep in their step and constantly get better every day.

RH     101   100   0 - 3  6  1
BI       000   400   0 - 4  3  1

W - Steven Dill. L - Alex Tucker.   S - Nick Franks. Leading hitters - RH, Matt Schlag 2-3, 3B; Dustin Mitchell 1-2, RBI; Aaron Pittsley 1-4, RBI; Nathan Kilburn 1-4, 2B. BI, Daniel Materne 1-2, RBI; Nick Franks 1-3; Dustin Belletty 1-3; Steven Dill 1-3, RBI.
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