CLEVELAND, Tenn. — With another masterful showing on the mound, the Bradley Central baseball team has a full grip on the District 5-AAA lead.
Receiving a pair of all-state football recognitions the past two seasons for his pinpoint accuracy and big numbers behind center, senior Dylan Standifer continued to show off his arm.
Standifer led the Bears to a 4-1 home victory and a pivotal series sweep of East Hamilton by not walking a batter in his second straight complete game Tuesday night. The dynamic duo of Riley Black and Standifer did not allow an earned run to the Hurricanes as each went the distance in the series.
"Dylan and Riley are bulldogs, and our team builds off them," Bradley coach Travis Adams said. "They grind and want to be in the big moment. They don't press and they stay within the game. I think that helps everyone else stay pretty cool under pressure, too. They are winners."
Since losing to Soddy-Daisy in the season opener, the Bears (17-8, 9-1) have not lost a district game since and have recorded four shutouts.
"We try to keep it simple," said Standifer, who allowed just four hits in his 93-pitch outing. "We don't want to give up free bases and try to not let errors stack up. Everyone wants that one seed, and we are trying to win every district battle we can."
Left-handed batters Jake Thompson and Black provided all the support needed to beat a greatly improved East Hamilton squad from last season.
Thompson rocketed a single to right field in the first inning to plate Ivan Vasquez, who swiped second just before. In the bottom of the third Black laced a two-run shot to the left-center gap and Thompson followed with another RBI shot to right field.
Thompson and Black are tied for the team lead with 26 runs batted in this season.
"Jake and Riley have been killing it for us all year," Standifer said. "With them hitting back to back is huge for us, because we can strike quick. They have worked their tails off, and it is paying off."
Bradley sophomore shortstop Ashton Simmons sparkled in the field. Simmons made plays deep in the hole and charged across the middle and helped begin a 6-4-3 double play in the sixth for the first two outs to fire up Standifer and the home dugout.
Standifer recorded a pair of his four strikeouts in the final inning as he gained steam. He had great command of his curveball and changed eye levels for opposing hitters frequently.
East Hamilton center fielder Bradley Garland made a spectacular diving catch to rob an extra-base hit in the fourth inning. Starting pitcher Noah Pridmore allowed only three hits over five strong innings, while Chase Roberts struck out the side in the sixth with serious heat.
The Hurricanes (20-7, 9-3) are finished in district play, while the Bears will try to wrap up an automatic region berth potentially against Cleveland next week.
Contact Patrick MacCoon at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @PMacCoon.