Error Dooms Bucks
Star’s Miscue Helps Draft Win, 6-3
STUARTS DRAFT – As a four-time regular-season MVP and one of the key members of the Clover Hill teams that brought home championship after championship in the 2000s, Addison Bowman is no doubt one of the most respected players in the Rockingham County Baseball League.
That’s what made his crucial error in the seventh inning of the Bucks’ Game 3 RCBL championship series showdown with two-time defending County League champion Stuarts Draft all the more surprising.
Bowman booted a ground ball with two outs and the bases loaded – allowing two runs to come home to break up a scoreless tie – and Draft tallied four more runs in the frame to go on and win 6-3 Friday night at The Diamond Club and take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.
Draft first baseman Wes Dimitt, who blasted a three-run home run off Clover Hill starting pitcher Andrew Armstrong’s very next pitch, said he viewed Bowman’s error with disbelief from the on-deck circle.
“Nine out of 10 times, he makes that play,” said Dimitt, whose team travels to Buck Bowman Park for tonight’s Game 4. “He’s a good ball player, and I bet he wishes he had it back.”
With Armstrong and Draft ace Ryan Cooper battling to a 0-0 tie entering the seventh, Diamondbacks shortstop T.J. Frazier opened the bottom half of the frame with a leadoff double.
Walks by center fielder Mitchell Shifflett and third baseman Jay Thompson later loaded the bases, bringing Cooper – this season’s MVP winner – to the plate.
He hit a ground ball deep to the left-side hole and Bowman – starting at third base, his third different starting position in the past three games – misplayed the ball after it took a tricky hop, allowing a pair of runners to score.
Dimitt then followed up with his home run, and right fielder Brandon Clark – after enduring two brushback pitches from Armstrong – added a solo shot to center, putting Draft up 6-0.
Cooper, who relied heavily on his two-seam fastball and side-winding throwing motion to pitch seven strong innings, said he was unsure if he would have beaten Bowman’s throw to first.
“That’s tough to say,” Cooper said. “I have no clue, no way of knowing that. But I was determined. I definitely wasn’t going to strike out because, I mean, you put things in play and good things happen. That should the mantra of any baseball team: Put the pressure on the other team and make them make the play.”
The Bucks closed to within 6-3 in the eighth, staging their rally by forcing Cooper from the game after he failed to retire any of the four batters he faced in the frame. But Draft reliever Tyler Brydge struck out Clover Hill pinch hitter Josh Eberly with the bases loaded to end the threat.
In Game 6 of the 2010 RCBL finals against Draft, Bowman overthrew first with the bases loaded to allow the winning run to score in the seventh inning. He brought that play up after Friday’s loss, while also noting Clover Hill recovered to win that particular series in seven games.
“It’s not my first rodeo, and I’m human,” said Bowman, a 34-year-old former Boston Red Sox minor leaguer who starred at Virginia Tech and Turner Ashby High School. “All you can do is just play hard and let the chips fall where they may. I mean, that’s all you can do. It’s going to happen: If you play this game, you’re going to screw up.
“I just feel bad for Andrew. He pitched a heck of a game and I didn’t have a good game defensively. So what do you do? You just show up tomorrow night and play ball. That’s all you can do.”