Dreher would send senior William Pauling to the mound to face off against River Bluff's righty, Reece Burnett (Spartanburg Methodist Commit).
Aaron Adams would lead the game off with a sharp hit ball to the right side just off the first baseman's glove for a single. He would move in to scoring position when Reece Burnett was hit by a pitch with two outs. Pauling would get Dreher out of the jam by striking out first baseman Sean Parsons looking. In the bottom half of the inning Burnett would show his breaking ball early using it to strike out the leadoff hitter Harris Courson. Grayson Stiglbauer would approach and hit an opposite field single. After a walk, Taylor Cotton would line a ball to left field that would be caught to end the threat.
River Bluff would get something going in the the top of the 2nd when Harrison Kinard would hit a two strike breaking ball offering just by third base ruled a fair ball by the home plate umpire. Whit Warner would follow with a single between the shortstop and third baseman. Walker McDowell would lay down a near perfect sacrifice bunt to the third base side to advance the runners. Transfer from the state of Florida Tig Yoder batting in the nine hole would come up with a fly ball to push the first run across for the Gators. Pauling would get Adams to fly out to end the threat. On to the bottom half Tyler Flemming would spark the Devils with a single, followed by a sac bunt by Patrick Fretwell. That would bring up Pauling who would strike out on a 2-2 breaking ball to make it two outs. Burnett would also get the next batter to strike out on his breaking ball, this time in the dirt. After two complete the score is 1-0 River Bluff.
As we move to the top of the 3rd Will Bradford lines a ball to left field that is caught by a diving left fielder. Brandon Tillmon would line a ball to right field for a single. Reece Burnette would find his way on base again after swinging through strike three that got past the catcher, and was hit in the back with the throw allowing him to get on and move Tillmon to second base. It would not prove to cost the Devils as Kinard flew a ball to left field and Brandon Tillmon was thrown out at home as Dreher's catcher securely applied the tag for the third out. Nothing doing for the Devils in the bottom half except a couple fly outs and a sharply hit single by catcher Ben Herring (Newberry commit).
Nothing doing for the Gators in the top half of the 4th inning as they go in order. Same for the Blue Devils thanks to Gators shortstop Walker McDowell who made an impressive play to get a ball that looked like a single headed for left field off the bat of Taylor Cotton, and throw him out by a step.
The Blue Devils however would battle in the bottom half of the 5th. After a strikeout to start the bottom half leadoff hitter Harris Courson would line a ball to centerfield and later steal second base. After a strikeout and intentional walk to Herring, Seth Kays would come up big with a flare to right field to score Courson and tie the game at 1-1.
The pitchers would continue to be stingy on hitters until the top of the 7th inning in which River Bluff would come up big with a double and intentional walk, which brought RB pitcher Reece Burnett to the dish with two outs. He would rope a single ruled fair over the bag at third to score the go-ahead run, and help his effort on the mound. Players and coaches would argue that the ball was foul but the umpire did not hesitate making the call, and upheld the call.
Burnett would return to the mound in the bottom of the 7th and record a strikeout, groundout, walk, and strikeout to end the game, giving him the complete game victory over the home Blue Devils.
FINAL: RBHS 2 Dreher 1
College Prospects/Game Notes
- Reece Burnett (SMC) willed his team to victory with his work on the mound and clutch hit in the top of the 7th. I got him on the radar gun working at 81-83 mph early in the game, but he got stronger as the game went on, topping out at 86 mph and hitting 85 mph in the bottom of the 7th inning in which he had two strikeouts. His breaking ball has good depth and is sharp when he snaps it out front for a 2-strike out pitch. He flashed a good changeup a few times that had a good 8 or 9 mph differential from his fastball and had arm-side run. It looks like he may still be feeling that pitch out, but when he throws all three for strikes he will compete with anyone. He should compete and do well at SMC.
- William Pauling (uncommitted senior) for Dreher is a sleeper, I had him up to 83 mph with a slow delivery from the windup. The ball flies out his hand well, he is listed as 6'1 185 lbs, the height may be accurate but I don't buy 185 lbs. This is a kid that easily has 88 mph in his body, and a wirey frame, with some lower half strength he could really boost his stock. Breaking ball is there but needs consistency, needs a quality third pitch. If he can get his foot in the door of a JUCO and add some weight I would not be surprised to see his stock make a big jump.
- This is the second game I have covered this season in which I can see the catcher's signs from behind! This time it was River Bluff's catcher. Catchers, please be aware that you may be able to get away with that a few times but eventually it will catch up with you. Use white out on your fingernails if you have to, don't put the signs on display for everyone behind you, I was standing and could easily see them.
- River Bluff looks like it is on the rise, I don't know how long they will stay in class AAA I would anticipate them jumping up to AAAA soon. With Burnett on the mound they will be a tough matchup for anyone come playoff time. I know that their younger team went undefeated last year, and they are already competing in their first year of varsity competition. RB has a great staff and facilities, look out the Gators are on the rise.
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