BRADFORD – Powered by seven first-inning runs, Bradford beat Ansonia 11-5 in a Cross County Conference baseball game on Wednesday.
Both teams struggled with errors as Bradford committed six and Ansonia had five. The Railroaders out-hit the Tigers 11 to five.
Ansonia took its lone lead of the game in the top half of the first inning. Dane Wentworth started off the inning for the Tigers by reaching on an infield single and then stole second and third. A wild pitch on ball four to Lane Clark put him on first and allowed Wentworth to score, making it 1-0.
Rygh Fortkamp and Cody Burnfield then reached base on back-to-back Bradford errors, which allowed Clark to score and put Ansonia up 2-0.
“Defensively I think we’re still trying to rebound from last night,” Bradford coach Shane Snyder said. “Not near as good of defense as what we’ve been playing. Pitching-wise Mason (Justice) struggled the first inning. Kind of got some control and confidence there in the second, third and fourth.”
Bradford made up for its defensive miscues by a solid inning at the plate in the bottom of the first.
Parker Smith led off with a single and came all the way home when Justice reached on an error. Andy Branson then singled to center, driving in Justice and tying the game at 2-2.
Clay Layman was hit by a pitch and Walker Branson reached on an error to load the bases. Bryson Canan then reached on an infield single that scored Andy Branson and put Bradford up 3-2 – a lead the Railroaders held the rest of the game.
“First inning is kind of something we’ve lacked on this year coming out of the gate, swinging the bat and playing solid defense,” Snyder said. “We did two nights ago, and we did it tonight. If we can build on that going into tomorrow then we should be alright.”
Bryant Byers then was hit by a pitch to drive in another run and make it 4-2. Ansonia got the first out of the inning but Bradford got another run on a sacrifice by Josh Phillips, making it 6-2. Moments later Justice hit a two-out single to left to increase the Railroader lead to 7-2.
“The first inning we had some errors, gave up seven runs, and that pretty much makes the difference in the ballgame right there,” Ansonia coach Dustin Hecht said. “Take away two or three errors that we had that puts us in a better position.”
After a scoreless second inning, Bradford added to its lead in the third. Smith led off with a double and Justice was hit by a pitch to put two on. After Ansonia got an out on a fielder’s choice, Layman hit a RBI double to drive in Justice and put Bradford up 8-2. Walker Branson then hit a RBI single to drive in Andy Branson and make it 9-2.
Ansonia wouldn’t go quietly and cut into Bradford’s lead the following inning.
Kane Kimmel reached base on a fielder’s choice, stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch to start a two-out rally for Ansonia. Wentworth then singled to bring in Kimmel and cut the deficit to 9-3. Wentworth then stole second and third and scored on a Bradford error, reducing Bradford’s lead to 9-4.
In the fifth inning Logan Miller reached base on a fielder’s choice and beat a throw to second on a grounder by Jarvis Thwaits. Miller then scored on a Bradford error, making it a 9-5 game.
“Got into more of a rhythm,” Hecht said. “We started hitting the ball. We started making plays. Just those one or two plays that are keeping us out of that W.”
Bradford scored the game’s final two runs in the sixth inning. Smith reached on an error and Justice walked to start things for Bradford. Both runners stole a base and scored on a two-out double by Layman to make it 11-5.
Smith led Bradford by going 3-for-4 with a double, a walk, three stolen bases and two runs. Layman was 2-for-4 with two doubles, two RBIs and a run. Canan was 2-for-3 with a double, a RBI and a run. Justice went 1-for-3 with a walk, two stolen bases, two RBIs and three runs.
Andy Branson was 1-for-4 with a stolen base, a RBI and two runs. Walker Branson was 1-for-5 with a stolen base, a RBI and a run. Chase Gambill went 1-for-3. Byers walked and scored a run. Phillips drove in a run.
Wentworth led Ansonia’s offense by going 2-for-4 with a RBI and two runs. Miller was 1-for-4 with a run. Tyler Neal was 1-for-1, and Thwaits was 1-for-4. Burnfield drove in a run. Clark walked twice and scored a run, and Kimmel walked once and scored a run.
Justice earned the win for Bradford as he pitched five innings, allowing two earned runs and three unearned runs on four hits, three walks, one hit batter and six strikeouts. Jeff Wolf pitched two scoreless innings in relief, allowing one hit and one walk.
Wentworth was charged with the loss for Ansonia as he went three innings on the mound, allowing five earned runs and four unearned runs on seven hits, two walks, five hit batters and two strikeouts. Clark pitched two innings in relief, allowing two unearned runs on four hits, one walk and four strikeouts.
Bradford improved to 8-8 overall and 2-6 in the CCC. Ansonia fell to 1-17 overall and 0-9 in the CCC.
Kyle Shaner may be reached at 937-569-4316. Follow me on Twitter @KShanerAdvocate or get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.