The Blair Broncs varsity baseball team has been searching for its first win of the young season since it began. At 0-3, they had often times played well enough to win but due to costly errors and missed opportunities, they continuously found themselves on the wrong side of victory.
All of that changed Friday.
The Broncs traveled to Arapaho for the second day of the Arapaho Tournament to battle the Erick Bearcats after Thursday’s loss to Canute sent them to the loser’s bracket.
Most of the Broncs early season woes seemed to have been a thing of the past as they jumped on the Bearcats quickly and did not relent until the run rule went into effect in the fifth inning.
With two outs in the first inning, the Broncs’ pitching and hitting extraordinaire Brandon Gray, tripled to right center field, setting up the Broncs with what would be their first of many opportunities to cash in.
Brooks Cross smashed a line drive into left field to bring Gray home and give the Broncs a 1-0 lead.
Michael Smith started his at-bat by getting hit by a pitch. Smith stole second to help put the Broncs in position to score and then was moved on to third with a solid hit from Tyler Tutten. Michael’s brother — Ivan Smith — stepped up to the plate and reached base on an infield single that allowed Michael to touch home and put the Broncs up 2-0.
In the third inning, the Broncs found themselves in a one-out situation with Gray on base after a walk. Gray stole second before crossing home plate on a Cross single to right field. Cross himself stole second and Saige Knight singled up the middle to plate Cross.
Due to some wild pitches by the Bearcats, Knight was able to get around to third before a sacrifice fly to right field allowed him to tag up and sprint across home plate to give the Broncs a 5-0 lead going into the top of the fourth inning.
A few of their earlier issues resurfaced on the Bearcats’ at-bat during the fourth inning, allowing the Bearcats to take advantage of an ideal situation and turn it into points.
Smith was able to get the Bearcats’ first batter of the inning to ground out, but an error by Cross at first, a walk, two wild pitches, and a hit up the middle made the score 5-2.
But it the Broncs were resilient and hungry.
After Kaden Hans singled to get on base, Gray sent a ball sailing over the left center field wall to take a 7-2 lead. Cross followed the play with a single of his own before stealing second to put himself in position to score. Ivan Smith stepped up and smashed a ball to right field to score Cross and give the Broncs an 8-2 lead going into the fifth inning.
Smith hit the mound again and retired all three Bearcat batters with only four pitches to give the Broncs their next and final offensive possession.
Hans started his at-bat with a single and Gray followed his effort up with a single of his own. The Bearcats pitcher walked Cross and loaded the bases putting themselves in a precarious situation.
Smith hit a ball up the middle that was quickly fielded by the shortstop, but a bad toss to second allowed both Hans and Gray to score, activating the run rule at 10-2.
Michael Smith pitched lights out going five innings, walking two, striking out four, and allowing only two hits and two unearned runs.
Brayden Gray led the charge for all batters going 3-for-3 with three runs scored, a home run and two RBI’s — runs-batted-in.
Brooks Cross also saw the ball well going 3-for-3 with two RBI’s while Ivan Smith went 2-for-3 with three RBI’s.
“We played OK today. There were still some situations that I felt we should have pushed across a few more runs,” said Broncs Head Coach B.J. Armstrong. “The door we opened for them in the fourth with the error, walk, and wild pitches concerns me because that let them back in the game, but I was happy how we responded to that in the bottom of the inning, essentially putting the game out of reach with the two singles and the home run by Brayden (Gray). Pitching was good again. Michael (Smith) competed well and threw a good ball game.”
The Broncs improved to 1-3 on the season and were scheduled to play 10 a.m. Saturday versus the winner of the Calumet-Fargo game.
Reach Ryan Lewis at 580-482-1221, ext. 2076.