The Bottom Line
By Bill Nestor
The Bridgeport Indians made history this past week-end. The Tribe became the first team in Class AA history to earn three consecutive baseball titles with their 9-4 win over PikeView at Appalachian Power Park in Charleston.
This venue has been extremely kind to the Indians in recent years and there has been rumor (by Bridgeport faithful) that they might rename it Bob Shields Park as his teams are now 6-0 there in the last three years in postseason play.
There has been a large amount of quality players that have made their mark on this baseball program, but the major constant is Shields. He now has five titles to his credit and has put himself in a coaching class all by himself. Could he be considered one of the best, if not the very best, of all time in the Mountain State? Numbers don’t lie and his resume is extremely impressive. In order to win championships you must have the combination of talented players and top notch coaches that can get the most out of those players. The best coaches make the right call at the most important moments that affect the outcome of games and Shields seems to do it almost all of the time.
Shields gave the ball to Tanner Furbee in what was only his second start of the year. Furbee responded by going the distance while striking out seven and sealing the three peat in the process. Shields obviously knew that Furbee had been strong on the mound as of late, but he also considered all of the factors before he made his decision. Baseball is considered be many as a thinking man’s game and you have to get up pretty early in the morning to outsmart the man that just won “one for the thumb.”
Furbee held a 1-0 lead heading into the top of the third inning when PikeView tied the game and loaded the bases with no outs. Furbee got out of the jam by inducing a double play and striking out a batter to extinguish the threat.
The near catastrophe woke up the Bridgeport bats and the offense responded by scoring seven runs. The Tribe cashed in on their opportunities as the Panthers committed three errors in the inning. The Indians added an insurance run in their next at bat to cruise to the win.
Dante Bonamico and Ross Marra both had a pair of hits in the win. Also joining the hit parade was Drew Hefner, Elijah Drummond, Hunter Haddix, Joe Dodrill, Gordon Swiger, and Furbee. The above mentioned players all collected a hit apiece. Furbee picked up the lone extra base hit with a double.
The Tribe made it to the championship game after blanking Braxton County 10-0 in the opening game of the tournament last Thursday.
The shortened five inning affair started out as a pitcher’s duel but in the end, there was only one man on the mound, Indian hurler Hunter Haddix. Haddix allowed just three hits and struck out two Eagles on the evening.
The Indians got things started in the third inning, plating four runs and providing a cushion for Haddix. They added two more runs in the third and closed it out with four runs in the fifth.
A pair of Bridgeport players led the way offensively. J.J. Harris and Drew Hefner were hard outs for Braxton County. Harris also scored three runs while Hefner drove in three runs in the victory.
Drummond collected a double (the game’s lone extra base hit) and drove in three runs to aid the cause.
Bridgeport finished the year with a 30-6 record.
Congratulations to Bob Shields and his team for winning their third consecutive title.
That will do it for now. Until next time…take care and God Bless!