GAME FOUR: BRAVES vs. INDIANS
Final Score Game 4: Indians 5 vs. Braves 4
Monday, April 24, 2006, 5:30 p.m., Minor Field
The Alameda AAA Indians pulled out a win in a well contested game with the Braves.
The two teams would remain tied at the end of the first inning. Nick Stevens led off for the Indians, but struck out. Jackson Tracy followed him with a fly ball to second base for two away. Micah Rothenbuhler singled and was advance to second base on Michael Copple’s line drive single to right field. Both runners advanced on a wild pitch with Trevor Greenley at the plate, but were stranded when Greenley was thrown out at first after hitting a ground ball to second.
Rothenbuhler took the mound for the Indians in the bottom of the first, striking out the first Braves batter and getting support from his infield when Tracy fielded a fly ball at second for the second out. The next batter managed a single with a grounder into left field. The Braves base runner stole second then advanced when the clean-up man hit a ground ball to third. With runners on first and second the batter hit a ground ball back to Rothenbuhler, who threw to first for the force play and retired the side.
The Indians got on the scoreboard in the second on the strength of some aggressive base running. Isaac Maximov led off and took a base on balls. A pitch in the dirt allowed him to steal second, and then advance to third when Derek Snediker was thrown out at first after hitting a grounder back to the pitcher. Maximov scored for the Indians on a wild pitch to Evan Park. The Braves defense stiffened, and Park struck out, as did Wyatt Arens to close the top of the second with the Indians up by one and no runners stranded.
The Braves put pressure on the Indians in their second at bat, but were unable to even the score. The Braves’ first up singled on a fly to shallow right field. The next batter grounded to Tracy at second, and he made the throw to first for one away as the base runner advanced to second. A mishandled pitch allowed the runner to advance to third, and the Braves go-ahead run took first when he was hit by a pitch. He stole second before the next batter struck out for two away. The Indians kept their lead when the catcher caught a foul tip for the third out, stranding the Braves’ runners and preventing a score.
Billy Hommert led off the third inning for the Indians and struck out swinging. Liam Bergstrom followed him to the plate and also struck out. The Indians added to their lead when Stevens singled and then, with Tracy at bat, stole second, third, and home as the Braves had trouble connecting on their pick-off throws. Tracy singled to right field, and then stole second with Rothenbuhler at bat. Micah singled, scoring Tracy, and then advanced to second as the Braves tried to prevent Tracy from reaching home. Copple batted in Rothenbuhler with a long fly to right field for a triple, but was stranded when Greenley grounded to second and was thrown out at first. The Indians went to the bottom of the third with a respectable lead of four to nothing.
The Braves began a comeback in the bottom of the third before the Indians defense tightened up and stopped the rally. Three singles in succession scored one run and the Braves were on the scoreboard with runners on first and third. A stolen base made that runners on second and third as Rothenbuhler pitched the batter to a full count. The batter connected on the next pitch for a long fly double to center, scoring one runner, but the Indians held the second runner on base. That was it for the Braves scoring in the third as Rothenbuhler struck out the next two batters, and then fielded a return grounder. The throw to first was good and the Braves were retired, scoring two and stranding two.
The Indians were unable to add to add to their lead in the fourth inning. Maximov led off for the Indians but was thrown out at first when he hit a grounder back to the pitcher. Snediker was next to the plate and was called out on strikes. Park followed with a walk and successfully stole second, but was stranded when Arens grounded to the pitcher and was thrown out at first.
Evan Park took over pitching for the Indians in the bottom of the fourth. The Braves’ lead-off batter obtained a base on balls and was advanced to second when the following batter was also walked. The third Braves batter struck out, but the following batter walked to load the bases. The Braves added a run to their score when the fifth man up walked, bringing an Indians pitching change in response. The Indians saved their lead when, with Copple pitching, the Braves batter grounded back to the mound and the force play was made at home. The next batter grounded to first and Arens made the play at the bag. The inning ended with the Indians up by one run.
The Braves defense held the Indians off the scoreboard in the fifth inning. Hommert, first up, grounded back to the pitcher and was thrown out at first. Bergstrom walked and the Indians had a man on. A wild pitch to Stevens allowed Bergstrom to steal second. Stevens then struck out, but the ball got away from the catcher and Bergstrom stole third. He was stranded there when Tracy popped up and the ball was caught to retire the side.
Copple continued pitching for the Indians in the bottom of the fifth inning. The Braves got a man on base when the first batter hit a double. A base on balls put a second runner on, and a stolen base gave the Braves a man in scoring position. The runner on first stole second base, but the Indians gained their first out of the inning when the Braves batter bunted foul on a third strike. The next up was called out on strikes and it was two away with runners on second and third. A wild pitch gave the Braves base runner the chance to steal home and tie the game, and the winning run advanced to third. The batter took a base on balls, and then stole second. The next batter walked to load the bases, but Copple struck out his successor to end the inning with the score four all.
Rothenbuhler singled to start off the last inning and advanced to second when Copple was thrown out at first after hitting a grounder back to the pitcher. A mishandled pitch to Greenley allowed Rothenbuhler to steal third, and Greenley walked to give the Indians runners on first and third. Maximov scored Rothenbuhler with a grounder to the shortstop but was thrown out at first, advancing Greenley to second. Greenley stole third with Snediker at bat, but was unsuccessful on an attempt to steal home and the inning ended with the Indians leading by one.
The Indians held in the bottom of the sixth to get the win. Copple provided strong pitching, striking out the first two Braves batters. The Braves went three up three down when the third batter popped up and Copple made the catch to end the inning and seal the win.
It was a close game and well contested by both teams, but the Indians made the plays they had to make to come out on top.
Game recap written by J. Michael Bergstrom. All rights reserved.