[Note: this story has been modified since its original posting.]
The green grass of the outfield contrasts with the red dirt of the infield. The smell of hot dogs rides the crisp spring breeze that blows through the bleachers at the Rock Bridge baseball field. The ring of aluminum bats breaks through country music played over a scratchy loud-speaker and on Wednesday evening, the constant cheering of the visitors’ dugout joined the sights and sounds of the ballpark.
On the other side, the Bruins bench was quiet, in sharp contrast with the vocal Smith-Cotton Tigers.
“We do not have very loud guys,” Rock Bridge coach Terry Whitney said. “We just go out and play ball.”
The quiet team won 8-7, prevailing in a game in which neither team could muster a clear advantage.
“The game was probably more nerve-racking for me than the team,” Whitney said. “They were a good hitting team and they put the ball into play.”
In the bottom of the seventh with the bases loaded and the scored tied at 7, senior Keith Briedwell’s single to right field brought in the winning run.
Briedwell started at shortstop then came in to pitch the last inning and earned the victory.
“It was a great feeling to be able to get the win and the hit for the team,” Briedwell said.
And though he performed well at both positions, Briedwell said he preferred to pitch.
“I really like that with pitching, I am a part of every play,” Briedwell said. “I feel like I can control my own destiny.”
Whitney said the team’s main reason for winning was not pitching, hitting, or defense, but rather running the bases.
Rock Bridge was constantly advancing their runners, using several sacrifice bunts to move forward.
“We had really heads-up baserunning,” Whitney said. “I was very pleased with that.”
Rock Bridge went through three pitchers on Wednesday. Junior Erik Darkow started, then Ben Martin entered in the fifth and Briedwell finished. Whitney said he was glad he could fit in three pitchers.
“With the big games coming up next week, I wanted to give those guys a chance,” Whitney said.
Rock Bridge plays Hickman today at MU's Taylor Stadium then begins the Class 4 District 10 Tournament next week.