GALLATIN - Gallatin senior pitcher Matt Bradley survived one bad inning to help the Green Wave defeat Beech 6-4 on Tuesday at Municipal Park in a match-up of District 9-AAA rivals.
“Matt Bradley is a guy who comes around in a coach’s life very few times,” Gallatin coach Mark Wilson said. “Anytime we have Matt on the mound, we feel good,”
The 6-foot-5 Bradley throws his fastball in the upper 80s and has good command of his pitches, Wilson noted.
Bradley gave up four runs on eight hits and three walks in 6.2 innings. All four runs, four hits and a walk came in the fifth inning.
But Bradley bounced back to hold the Buccaneers scoreless the final two innings, with an assist by Ethan Huddleston, who got the final out of the game after Bradley reached the 120-pitch limit.
“I had to flush it and come out like I started the game,” said Bradley, who held Beech scoreless for the first four innings on four hits. “My off-speed pitches really started working early, which was a big help. I knew I could fill up the strike zone and have them behind me. Having a good defense gives you a lot of confidence.”
Gallatin struck for all six of its runs in the first two innings.
“We just brought our bats tonight, against a quality team,” Wilson said. “It was a combined team effort. We were putting bats on the ball.”
Huddleston opened the bottom of the first inning with a single to left, and Ty Martin followed with a triple to right to score a run. Martin raced home with the second run on a passed ball.
In the second inning, Gallatin used singles by Huddleston, Jarrett Schiavone, Bradley and Luke Springer, along with walks to Martin and Tanner Park to score four runs, to push the Green Wave’s lead to 6-0.
“Matt Riley didn’t have his best stuff tonight,” Beech coach Josh Carman said. “That’s just baseball and that’s just pitching. The game got away from us early. After the second inning, we settled down. We played better defense. We had batter at bats. Bryson Duffer came in and settled things down.”
Riley only lasted 1.1 innings before Duffer came in and held Gallatin scoreless the final 4.1 innings.
“He’s got a cool demeanor, he comes in during tough situations and remains calm,” Carman said of Duffer. “He did exactly what we needed.”
Beech finally got to Martin in the fifth inning. Josh Maskill started the rally with a one-out walk after he fouled off three pitches with a full count. Beech followed with singles by Zaki Anderson, Drew Robertson Derek Steen and Haven Mangrum and an error on a steal by Steen to produce four runs.
“Matt Bradley pitched a heck of a a ball game,” Carman said. “He had us off balance.”
So, later in the game, Beech hitters started taking a two-strike approach, going into each bat as if they had two strikes and shortened their swings, Carman explained.
“He walked a guy and we sprinkled in some hits,” Carman said. “We put a little pressure on him - but it wasn’t enough.”
Steen led Beech’s offense going 2-for-3 with a run scored and an RBI. Mangrum was 2-for-4 with two RBIs.
Gallatin was led by Huddleston, Bradley and Schiavone, who each had two hits. Huddleston and Martin each had two runs scored and Schiavone had two RBIs.
The loss snapped a four-game winning streak for Beech, which included the first two-game sweep of district rival Mt. Juliet since 1998.
“Beech was probably the hottest team in the district coming into tonight along with Station Camp,” Wilson said. “Those guys are relentless. Coach Carman has them playing hard the whole game.
“Beech is one of the teams we haven’t had a lot of success against. Our guys had something to prove.”
Coming into the game, Gallatin was 0-6 against Beech since Bradley and the other seniors were freshmen.
“Beating them is an incredible feeling,” Bradley added.
With the loss, Beech’s record falls to 14-15 and 6-5 in District 9-AAA. Gallatin’s record improved to 13-10 and 4-7 in district play.
The two teams will face off again on Wednesday at Beech.
Gallatin will play at Hume-Fogg on Thursday, host Hillwood on Saturday, before playing two district games against Portland on Monday and Tuesday. Monday’s game at home will be Senior Night.
Beech will host Tullahoma on Saturday, before finishing the regular season with games against district foe Lebanon on the road on Monday and at home on Tuesday.