By KEVIN HARRIS
From time to time, coaches have to dig deep into their bag of tricks to pull out a victory.
On Tuesday at Silver Creek High School, Silver Creek baseball coach Joe Decker took two big risks and they paid off in edging West Clark rival Borden, 1-0.
Decker’s first gamble came in the bottom of the fourth inning.
With the bases loaded and one out, Dragons’ junior left fielder Brahm Whittinghill broke from third base towards home plate. Almost simultaneously, teammate Brooks Howell laid down a bunt between the pitcher’s mound and home plate.
Borden could not react in time to get Whittinghill out at home on the suicide squeeze, as catcher Brian McGee threw to first base for the second out. The squeeze produced the game’s only run.
“He mainly was just trying to bust it open to get one across and get something started from that,” Silver Creek assistant coach Scott Jennings said about the thinking of Decker, who was unavailable for comment afterwards. “I don’t think anybody thought it was going to be a one-run game.”
In the top of the seventh, the Braves (4-5) started the inning with an infield single by Caleb Hart, but teammate Dylan Scott popped up a bunt to Howell in foul territory along the third-base line. Howell then threw to first to pick off McGee to complete the double play.
After two straight fielding errors, Decker took his second gamble.
With runners at first and second, Silver Creek junior starter Cameron Cook appeared to be delivering an 0-1 pitch to Borden senior Josh Vollstedt.
However, Cook executed the old hidden-ball trick to perfection. He kept the ball in his glove and ran to second to tag out Borden baserunner Cody Craddock, who had a big lead off the bag, to end the game.
“That was coach’s call,” Cook said. “I didn’t get it the first time, then my catcher [Zac Spaulding] told me what to do. It worked out pretty good, all in all.”
The Braves had their chances to score as they left seven runners on base and five in scoring position.
“We needed one more hit,” Borden coach Brian Agnew said. “But you’ve got to credit them. Cook is one of the better pitchers in the area. We gave them everything that we had, and they were just one run better than us.”
Cook earned the victory in a complete-game effort. He allowed five hits and two walks and hit a batter while striking out seven. The right-hander struck out the side in four of the seven innings.
“Cameron did a nice job today on the mound. He felt good in the bullpen [before the game]. But after about the second inning, he wasn’t real sharp to be honest with you,” Jennings said. “The thing that I liked about what Cameron did was he battled. They had kids in scoring position in four out of the seven innings. He just bared down and did his job and stayed calm and continued to try to throw strikes without his best stuff. He can throw better than that, but you’re not going to have your best stuff every day.”
Despite picking up the loss, Borden freshman Brandon Thompson had a solid effort as well. The left-hander allowed an earned run on two hits in going the distance, walking three and striking out none. Thompson kept Dragon batters in check with an assortment of off-speed and breaking pitches.
“He located well and he kept them off-balance,” Agnew said. “They did what they had to do. It’s hard to be upset. We had to face one of their better pitchers, and we out-hit them [5-2]. They’re a fantastic team and we did it with a freshman on the mound.”
Hart went 3-for-3. Senior Shae Durham got both of Silver Creek’s hits with a 2-for-3 game.
The Class 3A No. 5 Dragons (8-3) will host Class A No. 7 South Central on Thursday. Borden will travel to Lanesville on Friday for a Southern Athletic Conference showdown.
SILVER CREEK 1, BORDEN 0
Borden 000 000 0—0 5 1
Silver Creek 000 100 x—1 2 3
W — Cameron Cook (2-0). L — Brandon Thompson (1-1).
Records — Silver Creek 8-3, Borden 4-5.