Bradford Pitches Maroons To Series-Tying Win

One team changed their jersey color. The other team changed the results, as the Maroons evened their Bulldog World Series with Friday's 8-2 win over the Whites. Who happened to wear black jerseys for game-two, regardless of team title. The Whites/Blacks had won Wednesday 8-3 to begin the five-game series.

The last time C.T. Bradford started a game, any sort of game, on Dudy Noble, was March 6 of 2012, against Penn State. But with Mississippi State measuring all their left-handed pitching options for the 2014 season the senior centerfielder is getting some fall ball turns in both relief and rotation. Bradford definitely improved his case Friday with 4.0 starting, shutout innings for the Maroons. He was touched for one hit, and while Bradford issued four walks none hurt the cause.

"It feels good," Bradford said of starting, even in an intrasquad setting. "It's been a while but it felt good. We'd been preparing for this and it felt good to get out there and throw. Just mixing it up, fastball and slider and changeup."

Bradford did get challenged in the top of the first as he had a pair on base and 1B Wes Rea at the plate. The southpaw was able to stay away from the big bat, drawing late swings for foul balls to the right side and an inning-ending fly to rightfield. He left two more on bases in the second with another fly-out to right, from C Gavin Collins this time.

In the third inning a leadoff single by CF Jacob Robson came to nought as he was forced, and after stealing second LF Jake Vickerson was caught going for third too. Bradford was able to strand two more walked Whites with a fly-out of 2B Brett Pirtle.

"I took off last week and me and the coaches thought that was the best thing for me," Bradford said of prepping for this turn. "I came back ready to go this week."

Meanwhile Whites starter RHP Ben Bracewell was in a battle. He did get out of the first with a double-play, but in the second had two more on after walking 3B Alex Detz and a one-out single from DH Zack Randolph. With two down 2B Kyle Hann went the other way for a single into rightfield scoring Detz. Bracewell had bases full and the top of the Maroons order back up, with CF Derrick Armstrong bouncing to second-side.

Pirtle made a good get, better throw, and Rea stretched full-length for the inning-ending catch limiting damage to a 1-0 score. For the moment. Because the Maroons blew it open in their third.

Bracewell nailed SS Seth Heck in the helmet, and on full-count walked Detz. C Cody Walker came after the first pitch and dropped a fly-ball double to the right gap. Heck had to watch it drop before going around and home and Detz stopped at third. Not for long though as a wild pitch scored him for the 3-0 lead. Randolph scored Walker with his single to center, and Bracewell was lifted for RHP Will Cox. "I was just trying to put it in play and ended up getting a hit off it," Randolph said. "It was a good job by the guys in front of me getting base."

Cox gave up a two-out grounder by Brown that got inside third base for a RBI double, and Armstrong followed with a single for a 6-0 lead with Brown out trying to take third. RHP Zach Houston took over from Cox in top of the fourth, sitting five-straight before a fifth-inning walk of Randolph.

Bradford's work was done after four with RHP Myles Gentry taking over, and greeted by consecutive singles from DH Dylan Ingram and Collins. He plunked Robson to load all bases, but minimized the harm with a couple of ground balls. The first, by Vickerson, was turned into two outs as lead runner Ingram scored to at least end the shutout. RF Demarcus Henderson grounded deep in the shortstop hole; Heck ranged over to his right for a sliding grab and was still able to nip the baserunner keeping it a 6-1 margin.

RHP Ben Hudspeth threw the sixth for the Maroons, only to be met with a no-doubt shot over leftfield by DH Daniel Garner. Hudspeth was hit hard three more times but for outs leaving a 6-2 scoreboard.

RHP Vance Tatum came out to throw for the bottom-sixth, with Brown doubling into the leftfield corner. That brought in RHP Brock Ward for a fly-ball out advancing Brown, with RHP Avery Geyer taking over. He got Bradford to fly out to short leftfield with the runner holding, before Heck grounded to deep shortstop for an infield single and RBI. That gave Detz another appearance and he delivered a double to right-centerfield for the 8-2 difference.

Jace Belcher threw the seventh with a leadoff single by Reid Humphreys, and three outs to end game-two.

Randolph, part of a fierce fall competition at catcher, improved his position with a 2-of-3 evening at the plate, a walk to reach again, a RBI and two runs. "I changed some stuff up, I got some good situations because I had runners on. I got a little lower and use my legs a little more, I've kind of been beating the ball in the ground so I was trying to get under and get some line-drive hits."

Detz was 1-of-2 in official at-bats but reached on a walk and drove in two teammates. Brown was two-of-two with a pair of doubles, and Armstrong hit safely twice. Seven of the nine Maroons batters drove in a run to support Bradford's winning start.

"That's what I enjoy doing, I enjoy starting games," he said. "Whether or not they need me in spring we'll see. I do have an every-day job! But whatever they feel best fits the team I'm going to do the best I can at that position."

Game-three is 1:00 Saturday, with good weather expected at Dudy Noble Field. They've only evened the series but after the opening-game defeat the Maroons now think they have the advantage. "It's one to one," Randolph said. "We've still got (Brandon) Woodruff, (Trevor) Fitts, and then John Marc (Shelly) again. So we feel good about this."

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