Thanks to one timely hit from Reese Read, the Bridgeport Bulls are still alive in the race for a playoff spot out of District 7-3A.
With two outs and the bases loaded, Read drove the ball to deep center field for a three-run double that put the Bulls up for good in a 4-2 victory over the Decatur Eagles.
“It was my first good hit in a while,” said the Bridgeport third baseman. “He hit the batter in front of me, and I knew that he’d try to get a fastball over the plate. My hands were quick, and I hit the ball good.”
The Bulls (19-7) staved off elimination in the playoff race, moving to 5-4 in district. Bridgeport remains one game back of Burleson Centennial and Decatur (14-11, 6-3), who played each other Friday in the district finale. The Bulls would pull even with the loser of that game with a victory over Castleberry Saturday
“We’re still in it,” said Bridgeport coach Ted Leps. “We hope the loss to Lake Worth [in the district opener] didn’t hurt us. But this district is so close. You can go from first to out in a hurry.”
Decatur looked to regroup Friday against Centennial, handing the ball to its ace pitcher, Jeremy Adams. The Eagles would lock up second place in the league behind Mineral Wells with a win Friday.
“Friday is a big game for us,” Adams said after the loss to Bridgeport. “I’ll do whatever I can to get us in. I can’t wait to get back out there. I know we can do it.
“We knew if we won tonight, we’d knocked them out of the playoffs, and we wanted that as a team. But we didn’t get it done.”
The Eagles never solved Bridgeport ace Omar Martinez, who limited them to four hits and two unearned runs in the second inning. Decatur catcher Cain Lowe knocked in both of the Eagles’ runs on a double to left field to make the score 2-0.
Decatur managed to get only two more runners into scoring position the remainder of the game against Martinez, who struck out four, walked two and hit a batter.
The Eagles left stranded DJ Roberts, who led off the sixth with a single and reached third with one out on a pair of failed pickoff attempts.
In the seventh, Martinez pitched around a walk and hit batter to get a ground ball to second by Cooper Jackson to end the game.
“I was trying to pitch tough and locate my fastball,” Martinez said. “My curveball was not getting over, but the changeup worked good.”
Martinez had support behind him with the Bridgeport outfield making eight putouts. Branon Huff made a sliding grab of a ball in the sixth inning. Bridgeport’s lone senior, Junior McLaughlin, caught five fly balls.
“They played well in the outfield,” said Decatur coach Chris Carter. “We also weren’t able to make plays when we had the opportunity.”
After being given a 2-0 lead in the top of the second, Decatur starter Chris Saunders couldn’t protect it. Saunders got a strikeout and then picked off McLaughlin at first after a single. Then, with two outs, he couldn’t find his command. He hit Gentry Funk and then walked Jake Hulsey and Alex Samples to load the bases.
Saunders came one pitch away from getting out of the jam, getting ahead of Huff at 1-2. But he hit Huff to force in a run.
Read then put the Bulls on top jumping on a Saunders’ offering. Read tried to stretch the double to a triple and was thrown out at third to end the inning. But the damage had been done.
Carter said his team missed an opportunity, especially in the second inning with the four free passes.
“Every run on the board, we gave to them,” he said. “You can’t give away runs.”
Decatur’s three pitchers walked nine batters and hit two. Saunders gave up seven free passes with the two hit batsmen in two-plus innings. Erik Elder and Johnny Murrillo combined for four innings of scoreless relief.