After completing a season sweep over their county rival on Friday, the Bridgeport Bulls clinched a playoff spot out of District 9-3A. The Bulls (21-4, 5-1) rallied back to defeat Decatur 7-1.
“Now we are in the playoffs, and that is a monkey off our back,” Bridgeport coach Ted Leps said. “We just need to take care of business the rest of the way and see how it comes out. We can’t take care of anything else but ourselves.”
Reese Read was in complete control of the Decatur (9-17, 3-4) lineup. He gave up an early run in the second, but shut out the Eagles the rest of the way, going all seven innings.
Decatur’s Cain Lowe singled home Christian Carrillo after he hit a one-out double in the second. Read got in trouble a couple of times after that point, but worked out of the tough situations.
“He [Read] did a great job. He had trouble getting his first pitch over for strikes a couple of times,” Leps said. “I went out there one time to replace him and he said, ‘No coach, I’ve got this.’
“He’s got confidence in what he can do. He’s a senior, and this was a big game for him, and a big game for us, so I was going to let him stay in there.”
The Bulls started helping Read’s effort in the fourth when they took the lead for good. Two singles and a walk loaded the bases to begin the inning for the Bulls. After a strikeout, Omar Martinez was able to score on a wild pitch.
Jared Sturdivant followed with an RBI on a fielder’s choice. The Bulls ended the inning with a run after a Decatur error. They took a 3-1 lead to the fifth.
Eagle starter Dewey Dovel had a great start, but the Bulls finally started getting to him in the later innings.
“Dewey did a good job of keeping us in the game,” Decatur coach Chris Carter said. “We just had a couple of things that we did not execute down the stretch that hurt us. They were able to get some key hits at key times.”
Bridgeport added another run in the fifth on a balk by Dovel.
With one out in the sixth, Dovel was replaced by Erik Elder.
Read then helped his own cause with a two-run single to give the Bulls a 6-1 lead. They added one more run on a wild pitch later in the inning.
“It was a good game for us,” Leps said. “We were able to put some pressure on them defensively, and goes the middle of our order to take some cuts and score some run.”
“That is what you have to do when a guy is pitching like he [Dovel] was early. You have to put pressure on him and get him out of his game.”
With the loss, Decatur needs a Sanger loss to Bridgeport, then the Eagles must defeat the Indians Friday to force a one-game playoff between the two teams for a spot in the postseason.
“We came in here expecting to win this baseball game,” Carter said. “Bridgeport played very well, and they out-hit us, and that was what it came down to.”
In a non-district game Monday, the Eagles took down Kaufman 16-15 in 10 innings. The Eagles tied the game 14-14 with three runs in the seventh.
Both teams scratched out a run in the ninth before Decatur was able to score the deciding run in the tenth.
Dovel and Reid Metcalf each had three hits to lead the offense. Austin Givens, Lowe and Gunnar Dailey all finished with two hits each.
Decatur will travel to Sanger Friday, while Bridgeport will head to Gainesville.