Swagger of Bomber hurler lasts start to finishJuly 24, 2017
By HENDRIX MAGLEY
HUNTINGBURG — Confident is one way to describe Tyler Hagedorn.
After rifling off a complete-game effort in Sunday’s 8-1 victory for the Dubois County Bombers, his self-evaluation was short but to the point.
“Swagged-out like usual,” Hagedorn said with a grin.
The victory pushed the Bombers to a 2-1 first-round playoff series win over the Fulton Railroaders as they now prepare to face off against the Paducah Chiefs in Round 2 of the Ohio Valley League postseason. Game 1 against the Chiefs is set for 7 tonight at League Stadium. The Bombers were 4-0 against the Chiefs this summer, outscoring them 29-11.
Hagedorn struck out eight while giving up just six hits and two walks in his first nine-inning bout of the summer to keep the Railroaders off of the basepaths as the Bombers shrugged off Friday’s blowout loss to win the next two games, including Saturday’s 12-9 victory at Fulton.
“I could throw my changeup really well for strikes tonight and that helped,” said Hagedorn, the Evansville North graduate and sophomore-to-be at the University of Southern Indiana. “I was able to get ahead of the batters and the defense did the rest of the work.”
After giving up an RBI single to Fulton’s Jake Wikel in the third inning, Hagedorn breezed the rest of the way and banked on getting ahead early in counts and pitching to contact.
The Railroaders tried to make it difficult on Hagedorn in the ninth by placing guys on first and second with only one out. But Hagedorn regrouped and recorded the final two outs, cementing the first complete game for a Bomber pitcher this season.
“He’s very competitive and that’s one of the reasons I left him in there in the ninth inning, because there might have been a shouting match right there on the mound between us if I would’ve tried to take him out,” Bomber coach Andy Lasher said. “His performance was exactly how you draw it up. It doesn’t happen like that very often, but the timing was very good.”
In addition to his pitching performance, Hagedorn also chalked up a few plays in the field that potentially saved some runs, with one in particular standing out.
In the top of the fifth, he batted down a hard-hit ball by Fulton’s Brandon Hauswald and was able to recover quickly and retire the runner. That halted Fulton’s second-and-third threat, and Hagedorn got a pop fly to end the inning. It was the closest the Railroaders got to crossing home plate for the rest of the game.
Maybe getting to play at shortstop and second base late in the season was helpful after all, when the Bombers had already clinched the OVL’s best record and they let players experiment with operating at other positions.
“Those plays weren’t pretty like my shortstop plays,” Hagedorn said with a laugh. “But we got the outs. That’s all that matters.”
Hagedorn got some strong backing from his offense, especially the guys near the bottom of the batting order. Roman Trujillo and Hunter Childress combined for three singles while No. 9 hitter Jaxson Blair ripped a double and a single to help set the table for the top of the order.
“The ball just seemed like a beach ball tonight,” Blair said. “I was just able to sit back and look for my pitch at the right time and I was able to do something with it.”
The speedy presence of Trujillo, Childress and Blair on the basepaths also made things tougher on Railroader pitchers.
“Any time those guys get on base, not just with doubles or triples, is huge because it gives the pitcher one more thing to think about,” Lasher said. “That production from your 7-8-9 guys isn’t easy to come by.”
The production spilled to the top of the order, where Jordan Libman took a big cut on a 2-0 pitch down the middle and watched it sail over the right field wall — an opportune time to go yard for the first time this summer.
“I actually didn’t know it was gone right away. I thought it was going to hit the wall because I’ve hit the wall so many times,” Libman said. “I just wanted to do what I could to backup Hags (Hagedorn) because me and my guys came here to win a championship and we’re not going to stop until we get it done.”
That seems to be a common thread in the clubhouse as the Bombers have had one goal throughout the summer, and there are no plans to abandon that mission now.
With the camaraderie and relationships the Bombers have built throughout the summer, they’ve stressed that they aren’t ready to head home just yet as they’ve made a pact to keep playing with the same energy in their best-of-three semifinal series against Paducah.
“We’re not ready to go home — not until we get a championship,” Libman said.
And Hagedorn? He’s even a bit more confident than that.
“We’re going to win it all,” Hagedorn said bluntly. “We just have to be relaxed having good at-bats and just let the ball do the rest of the work.”
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