The Blair Broncs baseball time had a tough time getting their first win of the season, dropping several in a row before they picked up the elusive first win. But now, in a matter of just one week, they have it turned around and headed in the right direction.
The Broncs played Saturday at home against Olustee in Duke.
Their first game of the afternoon was against the Olustee Eagles in what turned out to be a tough battle between the two teams.
The Eagles and the Broncs both put on a show with their pitching and defense and it was not until the top of the third inning that either of the teams put points on the scoreboard.
After a single from Olustee’s nine hole hitter, lead-off batterr Jonathan Marez walked. That brought up Issack Ramirez who laid down a squeeze bunt to plate Olustee’s first run. Patrick Garcia continued the trend by singling to left and driving in Marez to put the Eagles up 2-0.
The runs did not sit too well with the Broncs and so in the bottom of the fourth, they took advantage of a Brayden Gray lead-off double to left field. Gray advanced to third on a Saige Knight hit, and scored on a Brooks Cross ground ball to a deep shortstop to cut Olustee’s lead to 2-1.
Olustee answered back with another run of their own in the top of the sixth inning.
Caleb Reyes led off the inning with a free base after being hit by a pitch before stealing second and then scoring on an error by Gray to put the Eagles up 3-1 on the Broncs.
Down but not out, Blair battled back and plated two runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. Gray and Knight were both walked to begin the inning before a Cross single loaded the bases. Keeton Christian drove in Gray with a single and Skyler Scott drove in Knight to tie the game at three apiece.
Olustee could not generate any offense in the top of the seventh and it was their undoing.
Kaden Hans walked with one out and then advanced to second base on a wild pitch. Gray cocked back and smashed a 1-2 pitch into the left-center field gap for a double, scoring Hans and winning the game for the Broncs.
“Olustee is good,” said Head Coach B.J. Armstrong. “We really had to fight to win this one. They always pitch the ball well so it is hard to generate runs. I was proud of the guys for finding a way to win, rather than finding a way to lose.”
“Sophomore Baylor Downing really gave us a lift on the mound,” he said. “He came in and threw five innings, only giving up one run and not allowing Olustee to get anything going.”
Brayden Gray led all hitters with one RBI — run-batted-in, and was 2-for-3 on the day. Brooks Cross was 1-for-3 with two RBI’s.
Kaden Hans pitched two and one-third innings while allowing two runs and striking out one. Baylor Downing pitched four and two-thirds innings, striking out five and allowing zero runs for the win.
Game 2: Broncs destroy the Tigers
The Broncs played some of their better baseball of the season in their 11-3 win over the Tigers on Saturday.
Duke could not produce in the top of the first giving the Broncs their first chance and it was an opportunity the Broncs took full advantage of.
Payson Ramirez got on first due to an error by Duke’s first baseman. Kaden Hans was up next and sent a ball into left field for a single.
Both Ramirez and Hans advanced a base thanks to a wild pitch by Duke’s pitcher before Brayden Gray drove in Ramirez with a long fly ball to center field that was caught on a great diving catch by the Duke player.
But their inning ended in disappointment after a costly base-running mistake allowed Duke to get the remaining outs and end the inning with the Broncs up 1-0.
Blair really got things going in the third inning, however.
Ramirez struck out to begin the inning and Hans walked before Gray popped up to the shortstop. Saige Knight followed with a single and Brooks Cross walked to load the bases.
Keeton Christian came through with a run-scoring single and Skyler Scott walked, allowing another run to score. Nicco Castillo was hit by a pitch allowing yet another run and putting the Broncs up 4-0.
Baylor downing stepped up to the plate and ripped one over the center fielder’s head to clear the bases and put the Broncs up 8-0 at the end of the inning.
Duke finally managed to plate a run in the top of the fourth after Gray — who had been dominant on the mound — was forced to leave the game with a neck injury and was replaced by Skyler Scott. An error by first baseman Nicco Castillo allowed Duke to get their lead-off batter on base.
The next three batters were walked which allowed Duke to plate its first run of the game. Following the score, a Duke batter doubled to left field pushing through two more runs, but it was all the Broncs allowed from that point forward.
Blair scored three more runs in the bottom of the fourth before Tyler Tutten came in to relieve Scott and get the final three outs of the game as the run-rule was activated.
“We took advantage of some of their mistakes. We had some tough luck with Gray having to leave the mound, but Tyler (Tutten) came in and threw the ball well,” Armstrong said. “We hit the ball better, so hopefully we are turning this thing around. We will find out this week as we play in the Labor Day Tournament at Hydro. The tournament is loaded with good teams.”
Payson Ramirez was 1-for-3 with three RBI’s and Saige Knight was 1-for-3 with one RBI.
Brayden Gray pitched two and two-thirds innings with four strikeouts while Skyler Scott pitched two-thirds innings with one strikeout and one earned run and Tyler Tutten pitched one and two-thirds innings with zero earned runs.
Blair will take on Edmond Sante Fe South at Hydro at 4 p.m. Tuesday in the Hydro Labor Day Tournament.
The Broncs are now 5-3 on the season.
Reach Ryan Lewis at 580-482-1221, ext. 2076.