BROOKSVILLE – Making routine plays can take you a long way in high school baseball.
Bracken County has been doing just that, as well as focusing at the plate, the last three games, and it’s produced positive results.
Solid defense, solid pitching and an offense led by two home runs from Tad Fisher and another from Logan Sorrell carried the Polar Bears to their third victory in a row on Thursday, beating Manchester, 14-6.
“We’ve got guys going up there, staying aggressive – how can they help the team in that particular spot? We’ve got guys coming up in big spots and we’re fielding it,” said Bracken County coach Josh Cummins.
“The last three games we’ve won we’ve really been playing nice in the field as well,” added Cummins. “I’m really happy with that as well.”
The most costly mistake came in the first at bat of the game, when Gage Lucas hit a ball to second base and reached on an error, starting a two-run first inning for the Greyhounds. Kaige Cox followed it with a single and scored on a ball hit by Nathan Rife, before an RBI single from Jacob Calvert gave Manchester an early 2-0 lead.
The Polar Bears got it back in the bottom half of the inning, when Tanner Fisher singled and scored on his brother’s third home run of the season.
“I hate to focus on that stuff here, because once you try to hit it out you’re not going to hit it out. You’re just going to pop it up every time,” said Tad Fisher. “You just go to the plate with the same approach every time – hit a line drive to the right side of the field, up the middle – same thing every time.”
Manchester had just one win on the season and was coming off of a loss on Wednesday in which they held a 3-2 lead in the third inning, and they took a 3-2 lead again Thursday, this time coming on an RBI double from Lucas in the top of the second.
“Two different nights, two different outcomes a little bit. Unfortunately, they had some balls leave the ballpark on us tonight, which definitely put us in a deficit,” said Manchester coach Dustin Cook.
“I think the big thing with us, and the one common denominator that we have to make sure we get better at before our tournament game on Saturday, is just locating and making sure we’re throwing strikes, not allowing extra guys to get on base through walks and anything of that nature,” added Cook. “As the old baseball adage goes, walks will kill you. If there’s one common denominator between the two, I think it’s just putting people on base. If we can cut down on that, and cut down on mistakes in the field, hopefully we’ll be able to hang onto that lead on Saturday when it really counts.”
The Polar Bears drew even in the bottom of the frame on a single from Sorrell that scored Andrew Jefferson and took the lead on a single from Travis Tucker.
From there, they didn’t look back.
Sorrell added to the lead with a three-run home run in the bottom of the third to give Bracken County a 7-3 advantage and drove in another run on a double in the fifth. Sorrell finished with four hits, five RBIs and three runs scored.
Meanwhile, Tanner Fisher had allowed just four hits through five innings of work to keep the Greyhounds in check.
He faced some trouble in the sixth, hitting Calvert with a pitch to lead off the inning and then walking the next two batters to load the bases, before being replaced by Tyler Rice.
“He did walk some guys. That got his pitch count up there. I pulled him – he hit a guy then walked the next two. He’s a senior, so he knows district time that stuff’s not going to fly,” said Cummins. “He’s a senior, been doing it for a long time and he’ll respond.”
Rice got the first batter he faced to strike out and the second to fly out to Emery Woods in left field, but walked and hit the next two batters, making it 8-5, before getting out of the inning with a ground ball to third.
But the Polar Bear offense wouldn’t keep it that close for long, scoring for the fifth time in six innings.
“Scoring every inning, it puts a lot of pressure on them. They feel like they have to do the same to keep up,” said Cummins. “We got a few going there and one through nine were hitting today and got on base and we put some runs up.”
Tad Fisher led off the inning with a home run to center, his second of the game. Bracken County would score five more runs in the inning, with the help of a bases-clearing three-run double from Tanner Fisher.
Manchester added another run in the seventh, before Rice got Luke Thompson to line out to short to end the game.
Josh Tumbleson took the loss for the Greyhounds, going 2.1 innings and allowing seven hits and a walk while striking out one. Rife came in for the next three innings, before being replaced by Thompson with one out in the sixth. Manchester falls to 1-14 with the loss, falling in four games this week while preparing for an OHSAA Southeast Division IV playoff game with Notre Dame on Saturday. The game is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m.
Bracken County improves to 7-6 with the win. They’re scheduled to travel to Lloyd Memorial for a 12 p.m. game on Saturday.
2B- Lucas (M), Calvert (M), Sorrell (BC), Tanner Fisher (BC)
HR- Tad Fisher 2 (BC), Sorrell
RBI- (M) Lucas 2, Cox 1, Colvin 1, Calvert 1. (BC) Sorrell 5, Tanner Fisher 3, Tad Fisher 3, Tucker 1, A. Jefferson 1, Woods 1
LOB- Manchester 9, Bracken County 8
WP- Tanner Fisher. LP- Tumbleson.
Records: Manchester 1-14, Bracken County 7-6