Bears roar into region final

By BEN CRAVEN
Posted 5/14/19

COOKEVILLE — Bradley Central may have lost the District 5-AAA Baseball Championship last week, but the Bears certainly made up for it Monday by dominating Cookeville in the Region 3 semifinals …

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Bears roar into region final

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COOKEVILLE — Bradley Central may have lost the District 5-AAA Baseball Championship last week, but the Bears certainly made up for it Monday by dominating Cookeville in the Region 3 semifinals Monday evening.

“Losing the district championship hurt, but I think the way we lost it hurt us a little bit more,” stated head coach Travis Adams after the 6-1 outcome gave Bradley the eighth 20-win season of his 12-year reign.

“For our kids to bounce back really shows some resiliency. I’m really proud of my guys for having that 'bend but don’t break' mindset.”

For the third time in the last four years, Bradley (20-14) will return to Soddy-Daisy Wednesday evening for the Region 3 title game. The Trojans (23-12) nipped Warren County 5-4 in eight innings Monday night to advance.

Both teams will also play in TSSAA Sectional games Friday against either Lincoln County (16-16) or Riverdale (23-12), at the home of Wednesday's winners.

Friday's victors will advance to the TSSAA State Tournament next week in Murfreesboro at the Spring Fling.

Although they had struggled during the District 5 Tournament, committing a dozen errors, getting outhit 35-21 and outscored 27-25, the Bears didn’t bend in their region semifinal victory, playing mistake-free defense, while outhitting the hosts 13-4.

Lee University commit Riley Black (7-3, 1.52 ERA, 1.18 WHIP) nearly pitched a shutout in his 6 2/3 innings on the mound. Senior Jake Prock came on to get the final out due to Black's near-limit pitch count.

The junior right-hander allowed just four hits and one earned run as he struck out a staggering 11 batters, including seven of the first nine Cookeville batters. Black's only real blemish was a solo home run allowed in the fourth inning.

“Riley Black was a big part of our win out there tonight,” Adams said. “Cookeville’s got a tough lineup to keep in check, and he held them to just four hits. He gave up that solo home run, but the whole game was really on him. I know we left a few (5) on the table, but we also kept (Cookeville) from having big innings (11 Cavs left on base).”

Black also led a hot Bear offense that scored early and often. They started with a pair of well-placed doubles and scored two runs in the first inning. Then, six hits for the Bears scored one run in the third and three more runs in the fourth to put the game out of reach. 

Black (.347 BA, .488 OBP) paced Bradley with a perfect night at the plate as he went 4-for-4 with two doubles (8 on season) and three RBIs (31).

He was mainly backed up by his Co-District Player of the Year and fellow Lee signee, leadoff hitter Dylan Standifer (.350, .481), who went 3-for-4 with two doubles (11) as well.

Senior Jake Thompson (.306, .423) also had a perfect plate performance at 2-for-2 with a two-bagger (6), drew a walk, while driving in a pair of teammates for 30 RBIs on the season.

Senior Logan Weeks (.278, .398) helped out with a pair of hits, including a double (8) and he scored a run. Classmate Cade Sherlin (.333 OBP) had a hit and a walk and completed the circuit twice.

“We scattered a lot of hits throughout the game,” Adams said. “Riley (Black) and (Dylan) Standifer really helped contribute to our 13 hits, and it’s good when you can keep extending your lead. We just stayed calm and hunted pitches to hit. We didn’t go out of the zone, and we just did what we were called to do.”

— Banner Assistant Sports Editor Joe Cannon contributed to this story.


Game Summary

Region 3-AAA

Semifinals

Monday evening

at Cookeville HS

Bradley Central2013000 — 6 13 0

Cookeville0001000 — 1 4 2

WP: Riley Black (7-3) 6.2 IP, 4 hits, 1 ER, 11 Ks, 2 BB, 0 HBP. LP: PJ Key (C) 3 IP, 9 hits, 5 ER, 1 K, 3 BB, 0 HBP. HR: Espinosa (C). 2B: Black 2, Dylan Standifer 2, Jake Thompson, Logan Weeks (BC). RBIs: Black 3, Thompson 2 (BC); Espinosa (C). LOB: BC 5; Cook 11. Highlights: Black 4-4, 2 2B, 3 RBIs; Standifer 3-4, 2 2B, BB; Thompson 2-2, 2B, BB, 2 RBIs, Sac; Weeks 2-4, 2B, run, Cade Sherlin 1-4, BB, 2 runs (BC); Espinosa 2-3, HR, RBI, run; Sides 1-2, BB (C). Records: Bradley Central 20-14; Cookeville 22-9.

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