Patriots top Bulldogs 6-3

Indy’s pitcher Corbin Berkovics picks off the Butler runner at first.(Ron Morris)
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The rivalry between the Independence Patriots and the Butler Bulldogs continued Friday night at the John W. Matthews Field on the campus of Independence High School as the Patriots and the Bulldogs squared off in a Southwestern 4A Conference baseball game.

The Patriots entered the game with a 3-4 overall record and 1-2 in conference play while the Bulldogs were 3-2 overall and 2-1 in the conference.

Butler opened the game with lead off hitter Kyle Ziefert hitting a double to left field.  Butler’s next hitter Michel Stewart singled to right field moving Ziefert to third base.  However, Indy’s pitcher Corbin Berkovics picked Stewart off on a quick throw to first baseman Drew Harris who applied the tag and Stewart was called out.  After a strikeout and a walk,  Ziefert came home on a single to right field.  The Bulldogs led 1-0 after the top half of the first inning.

First baseman Drew Harris takes the throw from Ryan Mangum for the out at first base.(Ron Morris)

The Patriots came battling back.  With Indy’s first two hitters flying out, Corbin Berkovics and CJ Brown picked up walks.  Ryan Mangum came to the plate and doubled to the center field wall driving in Chase Rappe, who came in to run for the the pitcher Berkovics, and CJ Brown.  Noah Howie stepped up and and drove the ball into right field to score Mangum, and Indy took a 3-1 lead at the end of one.

Matthew Mangum tagged out at third by Butler’s Michel Stewart.(Ron Morris)

In the bottom of the third inning with Indy leading 3-1, Matthew Mangum led off with a single.  On his second at bat Berkovics drew another walk putting runners at first and second.  Again, Chase Rappe came in to run for the pitcher Berkovics.  Mangum got caught trying to steal third for the Patriots’ first out.

CJ Brown reached on a error by the Butler’s third baseman.   Noah Howie got caught in a run down between first and second.  Chase Rappe went home and beat the throw for the score.  However, Howie was tagged out to end the inning with Indy leading 4-1.

CJ Brown safe at third.(Ron Morris)

Butler’s Johnny Hummel led off in the top of the sixth with a walk.  He went to second base on a wild pitch and advanced to third on a passed ball.  Hummel scored on another pass ball to cut Indy’s lead to 4-2.  With two outs Drew Roberts drew a walk and made it all the way to third base on two wild pitches.  With Roberts on third and Justin Bennett at the plate, the base umpire called a balk on Berkovics which sent Roberts home to make the score 4-3.

In the bottom of the sixth inning, both Ryan Mangum and Noah Howie drew walks.  With runners on first and second and no outs, senior Joey Granger came to the plate and laid down the perfect sacrifice bunt moving the base runners to second and third.  Raja Milton’s single loaded the bases with one out.

With Indy’s sophomore third baseman Bryson Jusko coming to the plate, head coach Daniel Cooke called for the squeeze bunt.  On the pitcher’s wind up Noah Howie started home on a hard run.  Jusko laid the bunt down the third base line, and Howie had scored before the third baseman could field the ball and Butler could not get Jusko at first.  All runners were safe as Mangum advanced to third.  Nate Brown stepped in and laid down another bunt scoring Mangum and reaching first safely.  Butler got out of the inning on a double play with Indy leading 6-3.

Right fielder Raja Milton fields a fly ball in Indy’s win over Butler.(Ron Morris)

In the top of the final inning Indy’s junior Drew Harris was called on to close the game for Corbin Berkovics who had pitched six full innings holding a  6-3 lead.  Harris faced only four batters and struck out the last Butler hitter as he shut down the Bulldogs.   Indy took the conference victory over their cross town rival the Butler Bulldogs.

The Patriots improved to 4-4 overall and 2-2 in conference play.

Butler               1  0  0  0  0   2  0  –  3

Independence    3  0  1  0  0  2  X  –  6

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