The Bottom Line
By Bill Nestor
Bridgeport’s baseball team has a streak going and looks to add yet another title to its resume when the Indians start state tournament play today at 5:00 PM at Appalachian Power Park. Bridgeport earned the top seed in Class AA and will take on No.4 seed James Monroe. The winner will advance to play the victor of the No.2 Wayne versus No.3 Weir lock-up on Saturday at approximately 4:00 PM.
The Indians have compiled a 27-6 record that includes several wins over Class AAA powerhouses for a title as well. The Tribes only loss to a Class AA opponent came to rival Elkins clear back on April 17th, 22 games ago. Bridgeport has played six games since the postseason started and they have not dropped a game on their way to the state capital. What is even more impressive is the way in which they have dominated their foes during this run. They have scored 36 runs while allowing just 10, including a shutout of St. Albans in between sectional and regional play.
Ironically, it was a loss to the Red Dragons on April 21st that helped this team to a higher level of play. Competitors compete and after that loss the Tribe seemed to refocus. Their only loss from that point on was to Jefferson. Since the loss to the Cougars, Bridgeport has reeled off 12 straight wins. It’s not the winning streak that is so impressive, but rather the way in which they have earned those wins that has been jaw dropping. The Tribe has scored seven or more runs in eight of those match-ups, while allowing no more than three runs to in state foes.
Veteran mentor Robert Shields knows exactly what it takes to win championships and he would not settle for anything less than perfection. During their run, Shields became even more vocal during games and there were times when it seemed as if he was willing his team to wins.
I was fortunate to call several of their games on the radio this season and I was impressed with the Indians consistently high level of play. The workman like way in which the players and coaches went about their business, made you believe that they were on a mission to defend their title. The blueprint was always the same game in and game out. They would pick up runs early (most of the time in the first but never later than the third inning), capitalize on their opponents errors, while committing only a few of their own, and they always received a quality effort on the mound from one of a plethora of exceptional pitchers.
This past week provided a prime example of the basics of Bridgeport baseball. The Tribe took the first two games of a best of three series with Braxton County. In game one the Indians scored one run in the first and three runs in the third, to provide run support for Braden Lesher. Lesher allowed three runs in a complete game victory. The Flying Eagles committed four errors, while the Tribe had one.
In game two, Bridgeport scored four runs in the third inning to provide a cushion for Gordon Swiger. Swiger allowed one run in a complete game win. The Indians were without an error, while Braxton County had a pair.
It is the attention to detail that makes this team so successful and that is what Shields is all about. This hard work has landed this squad in Charleston-let’s see if they can come back with a fourth consecutive championship.
That will do it for now. Until next week … take care and God Bless!