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Baseball: Little margin for error – Hurlers guide Panthers to playoffs

By Richard Greene | Published Wednesday, May 4, 2016
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Winning Pair

WINNING PAIR – Paradise pitchers John Bridgeman and Bryson Myers head to the playoffs after going a combined 9-3 in District 9-3A. Messenger photo by Richard Greene

Of the 92-plus innings in District 9-3A play, John Bridgeman and Bryson Myers stood atop the mound for all 11 tension-filled frames for the Paradise Panthers.

With nearly every pitch by the two right-handers, the game hung in the balance. Of the Panthers’ 14 league games, eight were decided by three runs or less.

“It makes you concentrate more. You focus a lot more on every pitch,” said Paradise senior John Bridgeman.

Behind the duo, the Panthers earned the second seed out of 9-3A, going 9-5. The Panthers will now hit the playoffs for a Class 3A Region II bi-district series with Pottsboro at Frisco Independence. Game one is at 7:30 p.m. Friday. Game two is at 2 p.m. Saturday with game three, if necessary, following.

In district, Bridgeman went 6-2 with a 1.35 ERA over 41.1 innings. He struck out 65 and walked 43.

Myers finished district 3-1 with a 2.136 ERA. He recorded 43 strikeouts with 16 walks in 39.1 innings.

“There’s only been two district games that they haven’t went the distance,” said Paradise coach Kinney LaPrade. “They’ve been bulldogs.”

They’ve compiled a combined 9-3 record with an offense that’s averaged 6.5 runs per game during district. Thirty-seven of the team’s 91 league runs came in two wins over City View.

“They understand who we are as a team,” LaPrade said. “We have to pitch and play defense to stay in games. At the plate, we grind out at-bats and manufacture runs.”

Bridgeman’s impressive season comes two years after he had Tommy John surgery to repair his elbow. His velocity is up this year, hitting the mid 80s and said he has more movement on his breaking pitches.

“I feel way stronger. I don’t feel any pain at all,” Bridgeman said about the elbow.

As a sophomore last year, Myers made a strong debut, going 7-3 in district with a 1.48 ERA. While his numbers are a little off the previous year, he feels he is a better pitcher.

“[The experience] has helped a lot,” Myers said. “I know the hitters.”

The pair admit to a little internal competition between themselves.

“We give each other a hard time if we give up a run,” Myers said.

Bridgeman added: “Bryson makes me throw better.”

The two are expected to start the first two games this weekend against Pottsboro and hopefully into more playoff series.

“We feel confident they can keep us in any game. That’s a nice feeling to have heading into the playoffs,” LaPrade said.

BASEBALL PLAYOFFS
BI-DISTRICT

CLASS 4A REGION I

DECATUR VS. KENNEDALE

Game 1: 7:30 p.m. Friday at Decatur
Game 2: 5 p.m. Saturday at Kennedale
Game 3: 30 minutes after game two

BRIDGEPORT VS. MIDLOTHIAN HERITAGE

Game 1: 7:30 p.m. Friday at Bridgeport
Game 2: 1 p.m. Saturday at Midlothian Heritage
Game 3: 30 minutes after game two

CLASS 3A REGION II

PARADISE VS. POTTSBORO

All games at Frisco Independence
Game 1: 7:30 p.m. Friday
Game 2: 2 p.m. Saturday
Game 3: 30 minutes after game two

BOYD VS. GUNTER

All games at Ponder
Game 1: 7:30 p.m. Friday
Game 2: 1 p.m. Saturday
Game 3: immediately after game two

CLASS 2A REGION II

CHICO VS. QUANAH

All games at Hoskins Field, Wichita Falls
Game 1: 5 p.m. Friday
Game 2: 30 minutes after game one
Game 3: Saturday, TBD

ALVORD VS. WINDTHORST

All games at Graford
Game 1: 4:30 p.m. Friday
Game 2: 7 p.m. Friday
Game 3: 9 a.m. Saturday

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