Five-run seventh inning gives Bridgeport an edge in regional series with Morgantown

(Photo gallery courtesy of Ben Queen/www.BenQueenPhotography.com)

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Morgantown stood three outs away from claiming a 1-0 lead in their best-of-three regional series against the seven-time defending state champions from Bridgeport. The Indians responded with seven consecutive productive at bats to spark a five-run rally in the seventh inning. Bridgeport defeated Morgantown, 5-1 in the opening game of the Class AAA Region I series at Dale Miller Field.

Trailing 1-0 in the seventh, Aiden Paulsen walked to lead off the inning. A double from Cam Cole allowed Paulsen to score, tying the game 1-1. A walk from Ben McDougal, a sacrifice bunt from Anthony Dixon and an intentional walk to Christopher Harbert followed. With the bases loaded, Zach Rohrig lifted a sacrifice fly to left field, scoring Cole to give the Indians their first lead of the game.

“[Paulsen] fought from an 0-2 count back to get a walk. Cam ran a perfect slash down the line and scored him. That kind of caught everybody off guard. Ben gets a walk. A.D. [Dixon] gets a sac bunt and pushed people over. They intentionally walk Harbert. Everything was textbook in the last inning,” said Bridgeport head coach Robert Shields.

Staked to their first lead of the game, Phil Reed capped the five-run uprising with a three-run home run.

“We’ve got some strong, muscular kids. They don’t have to swing, as big and strong as they are, a hundred percent. There’s too many flaws swinging at a hundred percent. [Reed] just turned on it perfect and it carried,” Shields said.

Austin Mann took over on the mound and closed out the game for Bridgeport. Harbert earned the win by tossing six strong innings. He struck out six batters and allowed four hits.

“It would have been a shame for him to lose the ball game when he had a kid 0-2 and made one pitching mistake with the runner on second base to give them that only run. [Harbert] pitched a fabulous game,” Shields said.

Morgantown broke a scoreless stalemate in the fourth when Caleb Cottle sent Ryan Fluharty to the plate with a run-scoring single.

Reed Bailey pitched into the seventh inning for the Mohigans. He struck out eight batters before allowing the first three Indians to reach base in the seventh.

“I thought he got ahead of a lot of hitters and really challenged the hitters,” said Morgantown head coach Pat Sherald. “When he got in two-strike situations, he was able to put guys away with both his breaking ball and his fastball. He went out there and competed really, really well for us.”

“My hat is off to him. He really worked us. He nibbled around the zone. We have to do a better job adjusting,” Shields said.

No. 7 Morgantown (20-9) must win consecutive games against the No. 2 Indians (33-5) to advance to the state tournament. Game two of the series will be played at Bridgeport Tuesday at 5:30 p.m.

“You have to have a short memory. Maddox Bowers will go on the mound for us [Tuesday]. We just have to come out and compete and take one game at a time. If we win that game, we bring it back here to Morgantown and hopefully have a chance to win a regional championship,” Sherald said.





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