Knights win opener of three-game series
by Emily Horos
ehoros@cherokeetribune.com
April 10, 2013 12:47 AM | 1146 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
River Ridge pitcher Jackson Weeg (3) flips the ball to first in an attempt to get an out in Tuesday’s game against Cass. Trying to improve their standing in the southern half of Region 7AAAA, the Knights opened a three-game series with the Colonels victoriously.
<BR>Staff photo by Samantha M. Shal
River Ridge pitcher Jackson Weeg (3) flips the ball to first in an attempt to get an out in Tuesday’s game against Cass. Trying to improve their standing in the southern half of Region 7AAAA, the Knights opened a three-game series with the Colonels victoriously.
Staff photo by Samantha M. Shal
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WOODSTOCK — For 16 games, River Ridge has been trying to play tough defense and scratch across runs however it can.

The story was the same Tuesday night, with the Knights using a few bunts and two Cass errors to push three runs across the plate in the second inning, en route to a 3-0 win.

River Ridge (5-11, 4-3 Region 7AAAA) got started with a leadoff single by Will Redding, who then advanced to second on a passed ball. Elijah Brague laid down a bunt to move Redding to third, but he was safe at first when the throw was high. The ball rolled to the fence, which allowed Redding to score and Brague to reach second.

With one run across and no outs, Ian Andrews laid down a bunt to advance Brague. Once again, both runners were safe as Cass first baseman Alex Youslin dropped the ball, and Brague came around to score on the play. With Tyler Thigpen at the plate, Andrews used a wild pitch to move to second base, and Thigpen drew a walk to put runners on first and second.

Zach Cable, the fifth batter of the inning, reached first safely when Cass shortstop Sam Ayers held the ball to prevent Andrews from trying to score. After Cass pitcher Dylan Williams struck out Zach Loveless, Dalton Martin drove in Andrews. Zach Wilkin was hit by a pitch to load the bases again before John Cable hit a fly ball to short to end the inning.

Nine batters came to the plate in the three-run third, with Redding and Cable accounting for the only hits. There were two errors, two passed balls, one wild pitch, a walk and a hit batsman.

“That’s kind of been our philosophy,” River Ridge coach Scott Bradley said. “We put the ball on the ground, put the ball in play, bunt — do whatever it takes to scratch across runs. We knew (Williams) was very good. He’s the No. 2 guy in the state, so runs were going to be at a premium. We knew we were going to have to bunt guys over, steal bases and do some things to scratch across those runs.”

Aside from the third inning, there wasn’t much in the way off offense from River Ridge.

Redding singled to lead off the third and moved to second on a bunt by Brague, but he was caught trying to steal third. The only other baserunner for the Knights was John Cable, who drew a walk in the bottom of the fifth.

Cass, on the other hand, had at least one runner on base in the second, third, fifth and sixth innings. Twice, the Colonels benefitted from failed pickoff attempts by the Knights. Only once did the play work — in the second inning, when River Ridge pitcher Jackson Weeg picked Sam Russell off first.

Weeg pitched six innings and allowed four hits, walked three and struck out four. Center fielder Zach Loveless was his best friend on the field — recording five putouts — include all three outs in the top of the third.

Bradley praised the performance of Weeg, who earned his third win in three region starts and has surrendered just one run against region foes.

“Pitching and defense — it’s not a secret,” Bradley said. “We aren’t going to come out and hit a lot of doubles or a lot of home runs. We know that’s the strength of our team, and pitching and defense and just trying to scratch across runs when we can.

“Every time (Weeg) takes the mound, we know that we have a good shot to win.”

River Ridge will play tonight at Cass in a game that was originally slated for Thursday, but moved up because of a strong chance of rain. The teams will play the third game of the series Friday, back at River Ridge.

At the beginning of the season, Bradley wasn’t sure what he thought of the Region 7AAAA schedule, which is made up three-game series against subregion opponents, but he now says he likes the format. Most teams play each opponent twice, once at the beginning of the season and again at the end.

“I was skeptical at the beginning, but now I like it,” he said. “It gives you a chance, with three games in a week, to see all of their pitchers. In the past, we might have saw Williams (on Tuesday) and Williams again three weeks from now. It gives you a chance to see who they’ve really got, pitching-wise, and us, too. You can’t throw your ace every single game.”
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