SILO – In what could definitely be described as a Class 2A state tournament preview, Bryan County foes Silo and Calera squared off in a classic pitching duel on Tuesday afternoon.
In the end though, it was a two-out bunt single by an unlikely hero that provided the difference as second-ranked Silo edged fourth-rated Calera, 2-1.
Both hurlers had their dynamic moments in a tight showdown between seniors aces Jake Hamilton for the Rebels and Shawn Harper for the Bulldogs, but Hamilton’s RBI bunt hit in the fourth inning will likely be the play he is remembered most for – at least for a while.
Silo had already plated a run on a Trevor Dailey ground out but the Rebels seemed to catch Calera by total surprise when Hamilton dropped a perfect bunt down the third baseline and Braeden Wright cruised across the plate to make it 2-0.
Calera got one of those runs back but could not make up the entire deficit over the final three stanzas.
“You might not think it but Jake is by far the best bunter we’ve got,” Silo head coach Billy Jack Bowen commented. “He’s just outstanding at that aspect and very capable of getting it down in any situation.
“That was a big play in the game.”
While Hamilton’s run-scoring bunt hit was large in putting the Rebels in front after three-plus innings of pitching goose eggs to start the game, it was a tag at the plate by the senior hurler in the fifth that ultimately was the turning point.
Calera worked a pair of walks to start the inning after Hamilton has mowed down 11 Bulldogs in a row, including seven by strikeout. Following another strikeout, Chase Hamilton laced a single to left for an RBI to cut the margin in half.
Silo then misplayed a ground ball that loaded the bases but Hamilton fanned James Vazquez to bring Harper to the plate with two outs.
It looked like the Bulldogs would tie the contest when pinch runner Landon Robinson sprinted toward the plate on a wild pitch but Silo catcher Hunter Ratcliffe quickly tracked down the ball and tossed to Hamilton covering. Although it looked like the Calera runner might have been under the tag he was called out by the home plate umpire to end the inning.
“That was definitely the turning point,” Calera head coach Rick Teafatiller commented. “It looked to me like he was safe but it didn’t go our way.
“Shawn really battled on the mound and gave us some chances. They made plays though and we didn’t make enough.”
Both teams entered the contest with 21 victories on the season and flexed their muscle, especially in the pitching department.
Calera got a single from Cooper Hamilton to start the game and a Harper walk in the first but both were left stranded.
Silo then looked as if they would jump out very early as Korben Ford was hit by a pitch and Joyal Savage beat out a bunt single before moving on to second. Harper however rose to the occasion by getting a strikeout, comebacker to the mound and strikeout to leave the Rebels scoreless.
Neither team got another base runner until the fourth when Ratcliffe reached on a Calera error before Wright’s single. That set the stage for Dailey’s RBI and Hamilton’s key bunt.
The Bulldogs’ final threat came in the sixth when Harper roped a single to right to start the frame and Brayden Langley walked. Unscathed, the Silo hurler immediately coaxed a double play grounder that Savage turned successfully at second and recorded another strikeout with the tying run at third.
For the game, Jake Hamilton yielded just three hits, struck out 12 and walked four. Harper was almost as dominant, allowing two unearned runs on four hits (two of which were bunts) with three strikeouts and no walks.
“Jake shot himself in the foot a couple of times with walks but he’s a battler and got through it,” Bowen stated. “Give Harper credit. He threw a good game and fought us hard. I felt really good about our chances with second and third, no outs and the heart of the order up, but he pitched out of it. You’ve got to give them credit.
“With two of the top four teams in the state competing it should be a 2-1 type game and we got it today.”
Silo has another big battle scheduled for Friday on the road at Class A’s top-ranked Tushka while Calera’s next outing is slated for Monday at Tishomingo.
Contact Kevin Farr at 580-634-2161 or email@example.com