McGrath, Bulldogs Roll Over Bishops

BROOKSIDE – Prior to the start of the high school baseball season, Bridgeport coach Ted Downing was worried about the many injuries his Bulldogs had.

So far, so good.

Bailey McGrath pitched a six-hitter, striking out 11, and collected a single, double and RBI himself, in pitching the Bulldogs (3-0) past Bishop Donahue on Tuesday night at windy, but sun-drenched Niekro Diamond.

“Bailey pitched a really good game,” Downing said. “Both of their runs scored on errors by us, so he probably should’ve shut them out.”

The junior right-hander threw 103 pitches, of which 70 were strikes. He also fired a first-pitch strike to 17 of the 29 Bishops he faced.

“Bailey is capable of pitching like that every time he takes the mound,” Downing said.

The Bulldogs broke a scoreless deadlock with a three-run second inning off Bishops starter Jesse Padlow. Andrew Hadzima drew a one-out walk and went to second on a perfect sacrifice bunt by Carlos Kusic. After Colt Charlton walked for the second of three times at the plate, McGrath executed the hit-and-run to perfection with a single through the hole at short. He advanced to second when the ball skipped past the outfielder. QJ Williams followed with a rocket to the fence in left that plated both Charlton and McGrath.

“We had a couple of clutch hits in the inning,” Downing said. “We didn’t hit the ball real well, but we got some clutch hits when we needed them.”

Donahue (2-3) got one of those runs back in the top of the third. Brett Moore, the No. 9 hitter, laced a single to right-center leading off. With the count 2-2 on Bryce Jones, McGrath induced the perfect double-play ball – a comebacker to the mound. However, the Bulldogs got no outs on the play as the second baseman failed to step on the bag and the relay to first was late. A wild pitch moved each runner up 90 feet, but McGrath bore down to strike out the next hitter before allowing an RBI groundout. A comebacker ended the inning.

The score would remain that way until the top of the sixth, mainly due to the relief effort turned in by Bishops’ freshman lefty John Stocklask. He retired nine of the first 10 Bulldogs he faced before the sixth.

Donahue pulled to within 3-2 with some two-out lightning when Alex Riedel singled and took second on an error. Chaice Truex lined a single to the gap in right-center as Riedel chugged home uncontested.

Bridgeport got that run back in the bottom of the frame as Bradley Pritchett reached on an error leading off and stole second and third. With one out, Downing called for the suicide-squeeze and Hadzima came through to make it 4-1.

“That was a huge insurance run at the time,” Downing said. “Any time you can go up by two runs with an inning to play is big.”

The run really turned out to be big when Donahue put runners on second and third with two outs in its’ last at-bat, but McGrath caught Padlow looking at strike three to end it.

“That was a really good high school baseball game,” Bishop Donahue coach Bob Kleeh said. “It usually is when we play them. We just couldn’t come up with the big hit when we needed it, but their pitcher had something to do with that.”