Timely Hit
Rams come up with hit to beat Montreat before rain set in...

Timely Hit

By Sports Information Department BC | April 11, 2011 | RSS

BLUEFIELD, Va. — Victor Torres called the bunt attempt by Joe Gatewood 'terrible'. His tune changed following the next swing.


Joe Gatewood came up with the winning hit for the Rams.

One pitch after a failed sacrifice bunt try, Gatewood singled home Torres in the bottom of the eighth inning, leading Bluefield College to a 4-3 Appalachian Athletic Conference win over Montreat on Saturday afternoon at Bowen Field.


A second game was washed out by rain. The clubs will meet today in a pair of games starting at 1 p.m.


The extra inning heroics made a winner out of Bluefield junior southpaw David Gibson, who struck out 12 and allowed just four hits to pick up the win. He was in a duel with Montreat's TJ Fussell, who was also effective, retiring 12 straight Rams at one time.


"I think it is the most fun," Gibson said. "It is fun when your team goes up big and you are still pitching, but when you are in a battle with the other pitcher, there is nothing like it. It's like instead of pitching against the other team, you are pitching against him and you are trying to out-do what he is doing out there."


Bluefield (13-20, 3-8) improved to 3-6 in one-run games, and 8-14 in games decided by four runs or less this season.


"I did want the win, but more than anything I just want the team to win," Gibson said. "To have such a rough season with those one-run games, it is nice to come out on top of a one-run game for a change."


Gatewood added, "He did a really good job, kept us in the ball game. We got some runs for him and came up big for him."


An RBI single by Eli Smurthwaite and a run-scoring double from Cameron Hynes gave Bluefield a 2-0 first inning lead, but the Rams didn't score again until a dropped fly ball in right field tied it up at 3-3 in the sixth.


"It was a good baseball game, they played hard and our guys played hard and it went back and forth," Bluefield College head coach Mike White said. "It was fun to coach in and I hope it was as fun to watch."


Montreat scored all three of its runs in the fifth on a double from Tommy Reed and a pair of infield grounders that resulted in all three runs.


"I felt really good out there, I felt loose, I was a little up in the zone in that inning and I think that is why they were able to get some bat heads on me pretty hard," Gibson said. "I was mad about the one inning, but if you can't shake that kind of inning it is only going to get worse. I just wanted to keep my team in the ball game out there."


Both pitchers did just that. Fussell was equally effective, striking out seven and walking just one. Both teams made a costly error apiece.


"They made a couple (of mistakes) and we made a couple and it just ended up we had a couple of good at-bats early in the game to get us started, but that is baseball," White said. "You are not going to much better pitched games in the league than what they did today. David had (12) strikeouts, and their guy did a great job too."


Bluefield didn't get its next baserunner until Kyle Cabral was plunked by a pitch with two outs in the fifth. He promptly stole second, and kept running when the throw from Brent Rowe bounced off him toward left field.


White sent Cabral home, but Reed made a one-bounce throw to Rowe at the plate for the third out of the inning.


"The way it was going it was one of those games," said White, in explaining his decision to send Cabral. "Being at home we still get to force the issue with them so I knew we still had some at-bats left in us if it didn't work out.


"If it did then momentum comes right back to us. It worked out."


The Rams did tie it in the next frame. Travis Weaver reached on one of three singles, stole second and scored when Smurthwaite's fly ball in the gap in right-center was dropped by Brandon Harris.


"Complete team win, the team battled the whole day," said Torres, who is in Bluefield thanks to former Rams' center fielder Devin Good. "We have been feeling pretty good as a team, we have come together, it is a pretty good feeling."


Gatewood added, "We have a high speed right now. Everybody is playing well, playing hard, having fun so everything is going to look up for us."


While Gibson retired the final 10 batters he faced, the Rams began the winning rally in the eighth, only minutes before rain began to fall.


Torres led off the eighth with an opposite-field single to left off Fussell. Weaver followed with a failed bunt attempt, but then collected a single to left as well.


"It was a pretty scary moment because he didn't get the bunt down," Torres said. "That is Travis, he is just the captain of the team, him and his brother (Andrew), they are our leaders."


Batting in the third spot in the lineup, Gatewood is rarely called to bunt. He squared, but couldn't get it down.


"I was really trying to bunt, but I just missed it," Gatewood said.


Torres added, with a smile. "That was a pretty terrible bunt, but that is Joe. He is a 4, a clean-up hitter, guys like that don't really bunt, but he got the job done, which is huge."


That play not only induced Montreat (11-22, 4-8) third baseman Tyler Hopkins to move up on the infield grass, but Fussell was replaced by Joey Duncan. That was fine with Gatewood, who had been 0-3 against Fussell.


"That was important, he kept us off-balanced the whole game," Gatewood said. "He used his slider and his fastball well so we were just glad to get him out of there and give us a chance to win."


On the next pitch, Gatewood pulled the pitch down the third base line past Hopkins and into left field, and Torres crossed the plate without a throw.


"I was just visualizing the whole plate and coach gave me the 'fake bunt-slash' sign," said Gatewood, who, like Torres, is a native of New York. "I just tried to put the ball in play and it worked out for us."


The win made it five straight for the Rams.


"They (Torres and Gatewood) had a good day, they have been playing hard," White said. "We are not where we would like to be record-wise, but the kids have played hard and worked hard every day and that is all you can ask for. They're having a little fun with it too so it works out."


Bluefield hasn't been used to losing records, having won 80 games in the last two seasons, including the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) national title in 2009, and a runner-up finish in '10.


"It was tough at the beginning, but I'll tell you what, we are back on the winning side of things," said Gibson, whose Rams had significant graduation losses after last season. "Everybody is relaxed and we really believe we can do it. We can make a run for .500 and that is what we want to do, we want to finish .500.


"We want to win our conference tournament, but we want to give ourselves a chance to play at the Christian college tournament too."


The Rams had little time to celebrate a win, with the team quickly putting the tarp on the field before the downpours that followed. Torres, a senior from the Bronx, continues to be perplexed by the unusual weather of Four Seasons Country.


"It has been pretty weird when it snows and then it is sunny and then it rains and then it snows again," Torres said. "I am kind of used to it because I am from New York because we have a little bit of everything, but not all of it in one day."



at Bowen Field

Montreat..........000 030 00 — 3 4 2

Bluefield..........200 001 01 — 4 7 1

TJ Fussell, Joey Duncan and Brent Rowe. David Gibson and Cameron Hynes. W—Gibson; L—Fussell. HR—none.