The bats seemed as cold as the blistering Georgia wind, but Bradwell came back from 3-0 Liberty County to take the game 8-6 in the final frame.
Helped by a couple of Bradwell errors, Liberty grabbed an early 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first when shortstop Aric Albertson reached on a fielder’s choice and third baseman Jaccari Roberts walked. Both scored.
Panthers pitcher Colby Rhea struck out the side in the top of the second and Roberts’ double in the bottom of the third increased Liberty’s lead to 3-0.
“We got down early today and just didn’t hit the ball the way did against Tattnall last week, but we were able to come back and win,” Tiger coach Jeff Polk said. “It wasn’t pretty, but it’s always good to get the first game down with a win.”
Tiger senior first baseman Brandon Woodard got Bradwell’s first hit in the third, but the Tigers couldn’t capitalize. Rhea, who had been keeping the Tigers off balance for the first three innings, started to struggle in the fourth, giving up back-to-back singles to Tigers pitcher Ryan Desbian and left fielder Maxwell Ashe.
The fourth proved to be big for Bradwell, plating four runs, highlighted by a double-steal when Stephen Felton scored stealing home and Evan Crystal taking second.
Grabbing a 4-3 lead, Desbian had thrown nearly 60 pitches in three innings when Crystal came in to relieve Desbian. Crystal struck out the Panthers in order in the fourth.
“Desbian did a good job of battling on the mound, but his 60 pitches were high-stress pitches,” Bradwell pitching coach Ross Couch said. “He had to throw from the stretch a lot with runners on base, and he struggled with command of his secondary pitches in those situations. He only gave up 1 hit, but walks and passed balls made it tough on him. Evan did a great job of coming in and throwing strikes. Two of his three innings were solid.”
Desbian and Felton both added two more singles in the fifth, adding two more runs for the Tigers. But Liberty wasn’t conceding. Down three runs, Liberty plated three runs off of singles from Roberts and Rhea, tying at 6-6.
The only offense in the sixth was a hit by Panther Jerrold Clark.
Bradwell scored the winning runs in the final inning, on walks and a fielder-choice from Chris Bell. Bell pitched the seventh for Bradwell, striking out two Panther hitters.
“Bell is a senior and he wanted the ball to finish the game, Couch said. “He has been working hard on his upper body mechanics, and it showed. He closed the game out with location and pitch moment.”
Crystal earned the win for the Tigers, striking out five. Rhea struck out six for Liberty.
The Tigers finished with five hits. Desbian has a pair and Felton had two RBIs. Roberts collected a pair of hits for the Panthers.
“Overall, we pitched well, but we did a poor job of getting ahead early in the count. We were behind 1-0 or 2-0 on too many batters, and that limits what calls you can make. We have to do a better job of pitching to contact and letting our defense work for us,” Couch said.
Liberty drops to 1-1, after defeating Portal in the season opener. Bradwell moves to 1-0 and was to face Long County in a make-up Saturday after Thursday’s game was postponed because of frigid temperatures.
Also the Tigers are offering Military Appreciation night for every home game on a Friday starting with this Friday's re-match hosting Liberty County High School. Anyone with a military I.D will receive free admission to every Friday home games.
Bradwell 8, Liberty 6
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 — E
BRD 0 0 0 4 2 0 2 — 2
LIB 2 0 1 0 3 0 0 — 4
Last week the Panthers took down Portal High, 11-7, in their season opener.
Against Portal, Liberty scored three runs in the first inning and seven in the second.
The Panthers’ Quinndon Montgomery batted 3-of-4, including a double, with two RBIs. Colby Rhea was 2-of-5 with two RBIs, and Parker Neely and Jacob Albertson each had one RBI.
Liberty pitcher Vincent Brunelli earned the win, allowing four runs over three innings with four strikeouts, two walks and five hits.
Parker Neeley made nine putouts.
Liberty coach Tony Glazer said the Panthers played well for their first outing, but wants his team to finish as strong as they start.
“Started out hitting the ball pretty well and playing good defense,” he said. “As the game went on, we made a few errors that allowed them to get back into the game and left numerous runners on base.”