In the bottom of the seventh inning of Rock Bridge’s 4-3 home victory over Southern Boone on Tuesday, a Gerau scored the winning run for the Bruins (11-7).
Just not the one you’d expect.
Colby Gerau, a sophomore, scored the winning run for the Bruins as a pinch runner and part of a massive lineup overhaul for the Bruins. Regular junior varsity players replaced seven senior starters on Tuesday night in an attempt to find better production, especially at the plate, where the Bruins put up 20 straight scoreless innings until their victory over the Eagles (8-11).
Manager Justin Towe said he made the decision based on the competitiveness shown by some of the juniors in their junior varsity games, a competitiveness he said his seniors lacked as of late.
“These guys have played their rears off in JV ball this year,” Towe said. “It was time to give them a shot and see what they could do. They were chomping at the bit to play. Charlie Lay’s (the catcher) hand was killing him, but he wanted to play so bad that we would have had to drag him from behind the plate to get him out of the game.”
Towe said that the lineup was not designed to send a message to his seniors, but was instead reflective of a manager desperate to get victories following a 4-0 loss Monday night at Fulton.
“I look at it as trying to find wins,” he said. “I hope that the seniors can learn from this and go from there. But tonight’s game was really fun. I had a good time coaching tonight.”
Despite Towe’s intent, senior and regular second baseman Scott Thompson said that the message got through to the newly-benched seniors.
“Maybe it was time for a change,” he said. “It definitely gets our attention. It shows us that the guys behind us can play for us if we aren’t ready to play.”
The frustration felt by the replaced seniors was palpable, with most of them wearing frustrated looks on their faces throughout most of the game. Thompson said that the seniors were angry about not producing enough to play.
“We’re just going to have to work hard and try to get back in the lineup,” Thompson said.
Thompson’s replacement on Tuesday, junior Drew Kent, said that the victory gives the bench a boost in confidence heading into district play.
“We know that if anyone goes down, we’re confident in the guys on the bench going in and getting the job done,” Kent said. “When we go in the game, we’re going to battle hard.”
Towe agreed with Kent’s assessment, and said he was especially pleased with how quickly his young players adapted. They were unaware of their starting assignments until right before the game, and the start was the first varsity start of the season for every starting position player except left fielder Jaide Rose and shortstop Eric Clark.
“They got locked in and ready to go right away,” Towe said. “That’s what we’ve been looking for.”
Kent said that nerves were not a factor for he or his teammates while most of them saw more varsity time than they had seen all season.
“We loosened up early and were able to come together and come out on top,” he said. “When we found out, we were pumped to play and immediately got our minds in the game.”
Towe said he hasn’t ruled out the possibility of allowing his juniors to play more often in today’s game against Hickman, as well as in districts.
“Tomorrow at Simmons (Field, at Taylor Stadium) we’ll have all the kids there.” he said. “We’ll find out who were going to go with then.”