Bombers use timely hits to defeat DuelersJuly 18, 2019
By JONATHAN SAXON
HUNTINGBURG — Rough patches are a part of any journey and the Dubois County Bombers had been feeling the weight of that fact as of late. They had dropped four of their last five contests going into Wednesday night’s game with the Franklin Duelers, but they didn’t let their previous woes keep them down. Instead, the Bombers hung in with the Duelers long enough to get the key hits necessary to seize momentum and lift their fortunes into a 4-2 victory.
Dubois County head coach Travis LaMar called the game a good mental victory could help lift the team out of their rut and help them catch fire as they approach their last few games of the season.
“That was a very well played game on both sides of the ball,” he said. “Both teams were very clean and efficient. It was one of those (games) where runs were at a premium. It really came down to a timely hit here or there, and we were really fortunate to come out on top with that.”
Both team’s pitchers took turns keeping the batting orders in check through the first three innings before the Duelers (16-19) broke through in the fourth. It started with catcher Tim Blankenberger drawing a walk off of Bombers starter and Jasper native Cal Krueger. Then with two outs Blankenberger took a chance and stole second base to get in scoring position. Blankeberger’s risk would be rewarded quickly when third baseman Mario Melguza hit single to right field that drove him in for the 1-0 lead.
But the bottom of the sixth saw the Bombers roar back into the game with a vengeance. First baseman Chase Hug ground into a fielder’s choice to take first base, then shortstop Tyler Best and catcher Matt Ellis both drew walks to load the bases. Then left fielder Tyler Van Pelt took to the batter’s box with two outs looming over him and connected on a line drive to left field that scored Best and Ellis for the 2-1 Bombers lead.
“He threw me a first-pitch slider, it was up and right down the middle of the plate,” said Van Pelt. “I knew it was coming because they had been throwing a lot of off speed stuff in my previous at-bats.”
The Duelers made things interesting when shortstop John Benevolent clipped an RBI single to left field and the game at 2-2 in the top of the eighth, but Ellis came up with a big RBI grounder in the bottom of the inning that put the Bombers back on top 3-2. Designated hitter Bryson McNay solidified the result with an insurance run via a sacrifice fly that scored Van Pelt.
“I got two or three sliders straight a couple of pitches before, so I knew a fastball was going to eventually come,” said Ellis. “We had a runner at third with no outs, so I just had to put something in play. It worked out well and happened to get through.”
Krueger pitched four innings for three hits, one earned run, two walks, and seven strikeouts. Brennan LaBarbera and Devin Morris combined for three hits, one run, five walks, and five strikeouts across the final five innings. Morris (1-0) was credited with the win. Van Pelt finished 1-for-2 with two RBI. Ellis and McNay each drove in one runner.
Kyle Nunn pitched five-and-one-third innings for four hits, two earned runs, four walks, and two strikeouts. Branon Pope, Mickey Foytik (2-3), and Rylan Thomas finished up with three hits, two runs, three walks, and two strikeouts. Melgoza and Benevolent each had an RBI.
“I was just trying to pound the strike zone,” said Krueger. “Lucky for me they chased a lot of pitches. My slider was on and I used it to get ahead in the count. I ended up throwing a lot of strikes, but a lot of them were because they swung at pitches way out of the zone.”
LaMar has been impressed with the fact that every win they can earn during these last four games will go along way to putting them on the right path and helping the coaching staff solidify the best lineup possible going into the postseason.
Experience has suggested that teams who finish hot can carry that momentum into the postseason and can make a significant run, so if the Bombers can stoke the fire during their last few games they figure they give themselves a puncher’s chance to wreak some havoc on the field once the playoffs start.
“We’re looking to try and build a little momentum going into the tournament,” said LaMar. “I’m still looking everyday for the nine guys that are going to give me the best effort on a night in, night out basis. They’re still fighting to earn a spot in the postseason.”
“With playoffs coming here soon it’s all about getting hot at the right time,” added Krueger. “I’ve been around summer ball enough to know it’s not really about where you are, it’s about who gets hot at the right time. Hopefully we’re that team.”
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