Region foes River Bluff and White Knoll took each other’s measure on Monday night on the Timberwolves’ home field, with the River Bluff Gators came out on top in the end, 6-2.
That result didn’t come easily, however, as the Timberwolves fought hard and kept the game close until the closing innings.
Bailey Buol started at pitcher for White Knoll, and other than a solo home run from the Gators’ Thomas Powell in the first inning, he pitched a solid game through the middle of the fifth before the Timberwolves brought in a reliever.
“Their starting pitcher did a good job of mixing it up on us,” Gators head coach Mark Bonnette said after the game. “He wasn’t overpowering but he got us to hit some fly balls.”
White Knoll managed to load the bases in both the first and second innings, but had to work hard to bring in just one run in the first off of a strange sequence, as a sacrifice bunt, a hit-by-pitch and a walk loaded the bases before a balk scored a run for the Timberwolves.
River Bluff brought in an early reliever, Jack Rivers, to close out the second and keep the score tied at 1-1.
“We got that home run in the first and I think some of our guys thought we were going to roll from there,” Bonnette said. “I don’t think our approach was real good early in the game.”
The Timberwolves played a good small ball game in the third to bring in their second run as a Brett Casand one-out double started a series of plays that resulted in a run scoring from third base on a ground out to make it 2-1 at the end of the third.
The fifth inning proved to be the turning point of the game, as River Bluff turned on their own small ball production. Logan Busbee’s leadoff double was followed by a sacrifice bunt from Matthew Garris. A base hit from Myles Proffitt brought in the tying run to make it 2-2, with no outs. The Gators loaded up the bases and then a Weston Grant double brought in two more runs to make it 4-2.
In the sixth inning, they added on two more runs for a final of 6-2.
“Sometimes baseball is hard, you have to go out and win games like this,” Bonnette said. “White Knoll is a scrappy bunch, they play hard over here.”
The Gators and Timberwolves meet again March 17, again at White Knoll, so the lessons learned from Monday night’s tough win will need to be taken into the weekend matchup, Bonnette admitted.
“They had a lot of new guys we hadn’t seen yet, so that’s good for us to know better what we’ll be seeing next time,” he said. “They are a team that if you help them, they can hurt you. We’ll have to come back ready to play again.”