Just one day after Brigade head coach Derek Francis said he wanted to see his pitchers throw more strikes, his pitchers delivered.
Cade Peters threw first-pitch strikes to 17 of the 28 batters he faced, and gave his team seven strong innings as the Brigade earned its first win of the season, 4-2, over the Liberty Monarchs.
It was a game that saw everything come together for the Brigade. Junction City received timely hitting, strong pitching by Peters and two relievers, and strong, solid defense.
Throughout the game, Peters found a knack for escaping trouble. Such was the case in the top of the fourth, when the Monarchs loaded the bases with nobody out. After a Francis mound visit, Mason Majors lofted a sacrifice fly to tie the game at 2. After getting Aaron Keast to fly out, Andrew Paten singled to right. But John Oliver was thrown out at the plate on a perfect strike from left fielder Trae McDaniel to Peters to catcher Tanner Holen.
Liberty threatened again in the sixth, but once again, solid defense was at the center of the inning. Jackson Dierenfeldt and Oliver singled to open the inning. After Riley Covington struck out, Dierenfeldt tried to steal third, but Holen fired a bullet to third to catch him stealing. Majors then grounded to second to end the inning.
Junction City’s offense came out with a bang; then quieted for the middle innings before scraping together runs when it needed. Aaron Samaniego drove in Carson Sader on a groundout, and Will Jordan scored on a wild pitch. They added a run in the fifth on a fielder’s choice, taking a 3-2 lead, a score that stayed until the bottom of the seventh.
It was then when aggressive baserunning gave the Brigade a key insurance run. Tim Bell led off the inning with a double. He moved to third on a stolen base, then scored on a wild pitch by pitcher Cole Justice. The Brigade loaded the bases with two outs, but Holen popped out to end the inning.
After a scoreless eighth by Jayton Haggar – he struck out four batters in the inning, two looking – Samaniego came in to pitch the ninth. He allowed singles to Paten and Brady Holden (sandwiched by Cade Teat grounding into a fielder’s choice), but recovered to get Brett Holden to pop out for the second out. Then, he struck out Dierenfeldt to end the game.
Jordan and Samaniero led the way with two hits each. Samaniego and Parker Dunn added RBIs.
After an off-day Wednesday, the Brigade return to Rathert Stadium for a homestand beginning Thursday.