Indy out “runs” the Bulls

Corbin Berkovics fouls off a pitch in Indy’s win over Hickory Ridge. (Ron Morris)
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The Independence Patriots’ baseball squad upset the Hickory Ridge Ragin’ Bulls 11-3 in the semi-final round of the Southwestern 4A Conference baseball tournament on Tuesday evening at Hickory Ridge High School.

The Patriots will play Myers Park in the championship game on Thursday evening at 6:30 p.m. The game will be played at Hickory Ridge High School.

The third seeded Patriots had lost to Hickory Ridge twice during the regular season.  However, the Patriots offense and defense came together for the victory with Indy scoring in all seven innings.

Coach Cooke said “The guys are really hot right now, and we are playing good baseball.  We are playing good defense and right now the bats are hot, and we scored in every inning tonight.  I think we have figured out how to win. We went through some rough patches earlier, and now that we have learned how to win, I think we are one of the hottest teams around.  The guys believe, and I believe in them.  The sky’s the limit, and hopefully we will play another good game Thursday night.”

Corbin Berkovics pitched five innings for the win.  Ryan Mangum closed out the game pitching the sixth and seventh innings.

Indy’s Bubba Comer dives back into first base.(Ron Morris)

Indy opened the game with three big runs in the top of the first.  Bubba Comer led off for the Patriots with a single to left field.  After a few pick off attempts, Bubba stole second.  Nate Brown followed with a triple to center field to score Comer.  Matthew Mangum came to the plate and drew a walk and then stole second.  Indy’s next two hitters went down on strikes.  With two on Ryan Mangum singled to left field scoring Brown and Matthew Mangum, and the Patriots took a 3-0 lead.

In the top of the second Indy picked up one run on one hit.  Bubba Comer walked and scored Indy’s fourth run on a Matthew Mangum single to make the score 4-0.

Indy picked up its fifth run in the top of the third inning when Corbin Berkovics was awarded first base after being hit by a pitch.  Chase Rappe came in to run for the pitcher.  Ryan Mangum walked and Raja Milton moved up both runners on a sacrifice bunt.  CJ Brown came to the plate and reached on an infield hit to score Berkovics to make the score 5-0.

The Ragin’ Bulls got on the board in the bottom half of the third inning.  Nolan DeVos led off for the Bulls and flied out to center.  RJ Coard drew a walk.   Isaac Parker was awarded first base after being hit by a pitch.  Michael Mutterer was up next and doubled to left field scoring RJ Coard and moving Isaac Parker to third.  Parker scored on a called balk which moved Mutterer over to third who scored later on a passed ball to make the score 5-3.

In the top of the fourth inning Hickory Ridge made a pitching change.  Noah Phelps took over for Nolan Devos.

Indy’s Nate Brown led off the top of the fourth with another triple that went to the 365 foot sign in center field.  Matthew Mangum came to the plate and laid down a sacrifice bunt to score Brown and make the score 6-3.

Indy had another three run inning in the top of the fifth scoring three runs on three hits and two walks.  CJ Brown walked and went to third on a Bubba Comer single to right field.  Comer stole second putting runners on second and third.  Nate Brown came to the plate and hit a single to right field to score CJ Brown and Comer.  Matthew Mangum drove in Nate Brown on a double to left field increasing Indy’s lead to 9-3.

Raja Milton beats the throw to first after the catcher drops the ball on a third strike. (Ron Morris)

Indy’s tenth run came in the top of the sixth inning.  Raja Milton led off and struck out.  However, the catcher dropped the ball on the third strike and Milton headed toward first.  The Bull’s catcher found the ball and attempted to throw Milton out at first.  The throw was over the first baseman’s head and ended up in right field, and Milton went to second.  Milton advanced to third on a passed ball and scored on a Bubba Comer single to center field.

In the sixth inning Ryan Mangum came in to close the game for the Patriots.

In the bottom of the sixth Hickory Ridge’s Nolan DeVos hit a long fly ball to left field.  As soon as the ball left the bat, Indy’s left fielder CJ Brown turned and started running toward the fence.  CJ made the catch at the fence and immediately crashed face first into the chain link fence.  While down on the ground CJ held up his glove hand to show the umpire that he made the catch.  After throwing the ball back toward the infield, CJ went back down to the ground.  CJ’s coaches, teammates and the Hickory Ridge athletic trainers hastily made their way to CJ.  After being treated by the Bulls’ athletic trainers, CJ’s father transported him to the emergency room where CJ received six stitches.

The Patriots eleventh and final run came in the top of the seventh inning.  Noah Howie hit a hard grounder up the middle.  The Bulls’ shortstop moved behind second base to make the play.  The ball hit the base bouncing up and hitting the shortstop in the face and rolled into center field.  Howie was safe at second.  Corbin Berkovics was next up and doubled to left field scoring Howie to make the score 11-3.

In the bottom of the seventh Josh Topper led off for the Bulls and popped out to the shortstop.  Jaron Tate stepped up and went down on strikes.  With two outs Isaac Parker stepped up to the plate, and on an inside pitch Parker turned away from the ball.  The ball hit the butt of the bat and went into fair territory.  Parker acted as if he had been hit on the hand.  Indy’s pitcher Ryan Mangum picked up the fair ball and tagged Parker for the final out.  The Bulls’ coach questioned the call.  After the two umpires met, the call was confirmed, and the game ended with Indy taking a 11-3 victory.

Bubba Comer and Noah Brown led the Patriots with 3 hits each.  Noah Brown connected for two triples.  Both Matthew Mangum and Ryan Mangum had two hits.

Independence  3  1  1  1  3  1  1  –  11

Hickory Ridge  0  0  3  0  0  0  0  –    3

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