Down 3-0 to their cross-county rival Tuesday, the No. 5 Bridgeport Bulls rallied with some timely hitting to overtake the Decatur Eagles and stay perfect in district play.
A three-run fifth inning proved to be the difference as the Bulls (17-3, 2-0) edged Decatur (6-14, 1-2) 4-3.
“We tell our kids to just stick around and win it in the sixth and seventh innings, especially at home,” Bridgeport coach Ted Leps said about the comeback. “Decatur’s pitcher did a great job of keeping us off balance with first-pitch strikes.
“The inning he didn’t, we were able to capitalize on that.”
Trailing 3-1 in the fifth, Bridgeport finally got the bats going. Jake Hulsey led off with a walk and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Alex Samples then reached on an error, scoring Hulsey from second.
With one out, Reese Read connected on his third hit of the night, driving in Samples and picking up his second RBI.
“He does a great job at the plate,” Leps said about Read. “We have him in that third spot to drive in runs, especially from the left side, because he’s our only left- handed hitter.”
With two outs Dillon Waldrep brought in the go-ahead run with another single, scoring Read.
Bridgeport’s Omar Martinez threw shutout baseball after giving up the three runs in the second, but he got in a big jam in the sixth.
Erik Elder led off with a walk and advanced to second on a throwing error. Dewey Dovel singled, but Elder had to hold at third base.
With runners at second and third with nobody out, Austin Givens popped out to first base. Christian Carrillo hit a ground ball down the third base line that hit Elder, forcing another out.
Martinez then struck out Joey Cantu to get out of the inning.
“He pitched real well after the first couple of innings,” Leps said of Martinez. “He got a big break there with the ball hitting the runner in the foot.
“It just shows his composure. He’s been able to battle out of predicaments like that all season.”
Assistant coach Jack Reeves filled in as the manager for Decatur, while Chris Carter dealt with a family emergency, and he was happy with how his team held their own against a state-ranked opponent.
“We are still in it,” Reeves said. “We proved tonight that we can play with anybody in the district. We just have to handle things on our end.
“We came over here and battled. We have good things to look forward to.”
Elder took the loss for Decatur, going six innings, giving up six hits and striking out six.
Martinez got the win, pitching seven innings, giving up six hits and striking out seven.
Decatur will host Sanger Tuesday, while Gainesville will travel to Bridgeport.