It was another gorgeous night for baseball and though Rocky loaded the bases when left fielder Nick Romano and designated hitter Kase Ogata drew walks and first baseman Nolan Walker singled, the Grizzlies were held scoreless in their first at-bats. Starting pitcher Gabe Hughes gave up a lead-off double to the Eagles, but he struck out the next batter and a single by the following batter saw the lead-off batter race for home. Center fielder Ryan Hansen came up firing and was able to make a throw that saw catcher Kaden Hollow leisurely waiting for the runner to get closer so he could tag him out. Another strike-out finished the inning and the score was kept a goose egg for both teams.
Second baseman Bryson Moorhouse singled to get things going for Rocky in the second inning, and a misplay in the outfield put him on second base. An infield grounder moved him to third with one out before another grounder brought him home for the first run of the ball game and it would remain 1-0 going into the home half of the inning. Two walks for the Eagles put runners on first and second with no outs but a ground ball provided the first out and put runners on the corners. The runner from first was gunned down at second trying to steal and Hughes calmly struck-out the batter to retire the side and keep the 1-0 lead.
Romano earned his second walk of the night to start the 3rd inning but was picked off at first and no other Grizzly reached base. Capital did manage a base runner on a single but he never got any further as the game stayed 1-0 after three complete innings. Walker walked to start the 4th inning, and made it to third on another Moorhouse single before scoring on a grounder by right fielder Payton Lewis as Rocky doubled their lead to 2-0. The Capital side of the 4th saw Hughes strike out the first two batters before a fly out to right ended the 1-2-3 inning.
It was a case of deja vu all over again when Romano walked as the first batter of the 5th inning and advanced to second on an error on Hollow’s ground ball, giving Rocky runners on first and second with one out. A fly ball to deep left allowed the runners to tag up, but the umpire said one of them left early and the inning left amidst the turmoil. A Grizzly error put the first batter on first but a strike-out and a 4-6-3 double play ended the inning with the score still 2-0.
Shortstop Ty Hollow hit a one-out single in the top of the 6th but he was stranded there as the Grizzlies could not bring him around to score. It was another easy 1-2-3 inning for Hughes and the Grizzlies and the game went into the final frame with the score 2-0. Apparently the Eagles were not willing to test Romano’s bat tonight, as he received his fourth walk in four at-bats, this time with 2 outs. A single by Kaden Hollow put runners on 1st and 3rd and Brandon Huck went in to run for Hollow. An Ogata single brought in Romano and the corners were again covered by Grizzlies until a stand-up double by Walker scored both of them to make it a more comfortable 5-0 lead.
The bottom of the 7th saw the first batter line out to Hollow at short, and a single put the next runner on base. A strike-out provided the next out and the runner stole second without a throw down on the next batter. An early jump put him on third without a throw and a walk put Eagles on the corner bases before a grounder to Walker at first ended the game as he tossed it to Hughes covering the bag.
The Grizzlies were led at the plate by Nolan Walker (2-3, double, 2 rbi’s) and Bryson Moorhouse (2-3). On the bump, Gabe Hughes went the distance, pitching 7 scoreless innings with 4 hits, 3 walks and an incredible 9 strike-outs. The Grizzlies advance to state next week as the #1 seed in the SIC and await the results of the rest of the teams to see who they play.