After back-to-back tough losses to a cross-county rival Monday and Tuesday, Bradley Central got back on the winning side after drawing four straight two-out walks in the bottom of the eighth frame for a 4-3 victory over Notre Dame.
Now 14-6 on the season, the Bears will travel to Harrison Friday evening to take on Chattanooga Central before getting ready for a big showdown with Ooltewah the first two days of next week, with first place in the District 5-AAA race on the line.
Bradley (14-6) got in a hole quickly Wednesday as back-to-back errors on the first two batters led to a pair of Irish runs without benefit of a hit.
The Bears didn’t get on the scoreboard until the bottom of the third frame when senior Jacob Maynard continued his torrid start with a double to open the at bat. Cleanup hitter Caleb Pippenger gave himself up with a sacrifice bunt to move courtesy runner Caleb Pace before a sac fly by Jacob Barnes brought him home.
Bradley took the lead in its next at bat as senior Brently White drew a one-out walk and Charles Chavis put runners on the corners with a single. Maynard, who is hitting at a .490 clip with a .590 on base percentage through the first 18 games, followed with a double to plate White, while Pippenger brought home Pace again with a sac fly to left field.
The Bear advantage was short-lived as Notre Dame (9-7) used a walk and its only two hits of the night to plate a run in the top of the fifth frame. Matt Rouche delivered a two-out single to bring in the game-tying run.
Bradley had a couple of chances to close out the game with a pair of base runners (Jordan Timmons and Cal Pickel, who both singled) in the bottom of the fifth, plus a leadoff walk (Chavis) in the sixth and a one-out base on balls (Timmons) in the seventh that went for naught. All totaled the Bears left 11 runners on base, including two or more in four frames.
After the leadoff batter in the top of the eighth got plunked, Notre Dame moved him into scoring positions with a sacrifice bunt before senior Nate Mills, who came on in relief the inning before, quelled the threat with back-to-back strike outs.
In the bottom of the extra frame, the first two Bear batters got out quickly before Chavis worked Notre Dame’s third pitcher for a base on balls and then moved to third on a pair of wild pitches.
After Maynard also walked, Pippenger was given an intentional free pass to set up a force at every base, but the Irish reliever couldn’t find the strike zone once again, issuing a four-pitch walk to Barnes, allowing Chavis to walk home with the game-winning run.
Chavis was on base three times in the contest, scoring twice, while Maynard went 2-for-4, both doubles, plus walked in five trips to the dish.
On the mound for the Bears, Ryan Blair, Maynard and Mills combined on a two-hitter, striking out eight, but also giving up nine free passes. Mills tossed the final two frames to even his record at 3-3 on the season.
In a freshman game before the varsity squads took the field, Bradley edged Walker Valley 4-3 when Hunter James led off the bottom of the seventh with a double, moved to third on an infield hit by Brad Millard and scored on a squeeze bunt by Austin Lewis.
James, who went 3-for-3 in the game, and Colten Morten both had doubles in the victory, while Brandon Thompson earned the pitching win.
Ben Clark went 1-for-2 with a double and an RBI for the Mustangs, while Avery Jones also went 1-for-2 and scored twice.
Notre Dame 200 010 00 — 3 2 1
Bradley Central 001 200 01 — 4 6 2
WP: Nate Mils (3-3) 2 IP, 3 Ks, 0 BB, 1 HBP, 0 hits, 0 ER. LP: Linehan 0.2 IP, 1 Ks, 4 BB, 0 hits, 1 ER. 2B: Jacob Maynard 2 (BC); RBI: Matt Rouche (ND); Jacob Barnes 2, Jacob Maynard, Caleb Pippenger (BC). Highlights: Rouche 1-3, BB, RBI (ND); Maynard 2-4, BB, 2 2B, RBI, run; Pippenger 1-2, BB, RBI; Charles Chavis, 1-3, 2 BB, 2 runs (BC). Records: Notre Dame 9-7; Bradley Central 14-6.