Bombers sweep Flash for division titleJuly 31, 2019
By JONATHAN SAXON
HUNTINGBURG — It rained Tuesday afternoon, but the real downpour wasn’t a result of anything related to the weather conditions. It was instead the Dubois County Bombers who poured on the runs through short but potent flurries throughout Tuesday's second game of their semifinal round series against the Henderson Flash, which they closed out with a 12-3 win to crown themselves Eastern division champions.
Bombers coach Travis LaMar had nothing but high praise for the way his team has played during their run through the postseason in which they swept both the Flash and the Owensboro RiverDawgs on the way to a division title and a berth in the Ohio Valley League championship game. He said all of the success they have achieved started with a collective will to practice and prepare to the highest of their abilities, an attitude which they have been cultivating all summer long.
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“I’ve been really proud of these and their effort the last four games,” he said. “They come to the field everyday with a great attitude, and I feel like they have prepared themselves to get to this point. They’ve had a great approach and their mindset has been exactly where it needs to be. I’m proud of the growth and maturity that they’ve shown.”
The first bit of rain came for the Henderson side when a sacrifice fly from shortstop Josh Johnston allowed center fielder Bryce Thomas to score in the top of the first inning. But the Bombers responded in kind with a four-run outburst in the bottom of the second inning.
The first came after designated hitter Tyler Van Pelt stole third base then rounded the corner home after the ensuing throw from Flash catcher Brandon Boxer missed his throw to third baseman Trevor Campbell. Second baseman Easton Stewart and center fielder followed up with consecutive RBI singles, and a sac-fly from first baseman Chase Hug drove in the fourth run to give the Bombers a 4-1 lead going into the third inning.
But the Flash held firm in the face of the first flurry and came back to make the game a one-run affair in the third inning thanks to a two-run RBI single from Johnston drove in first baseman Charlie Mooneyham and right fielder Robert Sproul. But that would be the final sign of offense from the Flash before the Bombers kicked it into gear and made the lead between the two teams insurmountable.
With two outs in the bottom of the fourth inning third baseman Tyler Best clipped a base hit that drove in Brokemond for the Bombers’ fifth run of the game. Hug then stole home plate and Best took advantage of another throwing error from Boxer to come in and put the Bombers up 7-3. Two more runs came in the bottom of the sixth when Hug connected on a straight fastball and elevated it over the right field wall, which also scored Brokemond.
“(Flash pitcher Ty Ramey) just left a fastball up and right down the middle,” he said. “He just made a mistake and I was able to capitalize on it.”
The final three runs came in the eighth inning as right fielder Bryson McNay scored two with a triple and left fielder Tucker Schank hit an RBI single that capped off the game.
Bombers starter Reece Kleinhelter pitched four innings for seven hits, three runs, one walk, and four strikeouts. Alex Franklin, Benton McGill and Devin Morris combined for two hits, five walks, and seven strikeouts in relief. Franklin (1-0) picked up the win. Hug finished 2-for-3 with three RBI and a homerun. McNay went 1-for-5 with two RBI. Brokemond, Stewart, and Schank each also drove in a run.
Flash starter Logan Gray (0-1) pitched three and two-thirds innings for four hits, seven runs, four walks, and two strikeouts. Ramey, Luke Brown, Cam Chapman, and Miller McMatheren combined for four hits, five runs, four walks, and four strikeouts. Johnston finished 2-for-4 with three RBI.
“It feels amazing coming out and beating them the way we did,” said Hug.
“We’ve been playing really hard, and it’s really rewarding to see us win (the division title),” added Brokemond.
The Bombers believed that their 3-1 finish in the regular season would help set them up for postseason success, and their faith and efforts have been rewarded many times over so far. In their four playoff games the Bombers have scored double-digit runs each time out and have averaged a 10 ½ run differential over their opponents. But it’s not just the offense that is humming for the Bombers, who have been efficient in covering the field on the defensive end as evidenced by the fact they have only committed three errors across their current four-game span.
“They’ve really simplified the game quite a bit,” said LaMar. “Offensively we’ve been very disciplined at the plate. Defensively we’ve made good decisions with the ball. We haven’t tried to force anything and given up too many extra bases. We’ve really cleaned it up on that end of it.”
The Bombers now have to prepare to face the Hoptown Hoppers in the championship series which starts Friday Aug. 2 in Hopkinsville. The Bombers own a 3-2 series edge against the Hoppers in the regular season, so that gives them confidence that they can put it all together for a possible third league title in six years. The team believes if they can keep on playing defense the way they have their first four games, that’s their best route to give themselves the best chance at success to close the season.
“The biggest thing for us is pitching,” said Brokemond. “Our pitchers have done really well for us lately. They keep it up, we should be okay. Playing good defense behind them is going to help a lot.”
“I know that their hitters are really good and it’s been a battle with them all year,” added Kleinhelter. “I think if we keep playing and pitching the ball the way we’re doing we’ll be alright.”
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