By Brandon Speck/Monroe Journal
BRUCE – The Hamilton and Bruce baseball rivalry will never be the same after last season’s playoff controversy that ended with Bruce’s MHSAA-ruled elimination from the Class 2A state title series and Hamilton making the trip to Pearl.
The two finally met again Tuesday in a Division 3-2A matchup. Ten months later, Hamilton took the first of two games this week against the Trojans, a 4-0 win behind Ole Miss-signee Chase Reeves.
Reeves struck out 15 batters and the run Kyle Dahlem drove in on a 3-2 pitch in the fourth inning was plenty.
Hamilton (8-2, 4-0) added three more in the sixth, on Austin Welch’s RBI fielder’s choice and Cole Gill’s two-out, two-run single that scored Cojuante McMillian and Reeves.
“We got good pitching and some clutch hitting. Scoring the first run was big,” Hamilton coach Lewis Earnest said. “We’re trying to put (last season) in the past and I’m sure it’s motivation for both teams. It creates a rivalry. I’m real proud of how everybody acted, our fans,their fans, our kids, his kids…”
Hamilton got the first run after a Parker Rye single opened the inning. Dahlem fought back from an 0-2 deficit against Bruce pitcher Jay King, who struck out eight in a sparkling effort of his own.
“Jay was as good as he’s ever been and Chase Reeves was of course really good,” said Bruce coach Sid Burt. “We had as many baserunners as they did. We just couldn’t get the big hit.”
Hamilton had four of the game’s six hits, two of them from Graham Pritchett. King had one of Bruce’s two hits. Brucefell to 8-2,3-1.
“Jay King was outstanding,” Earnest said. “It was just two pitchers battling it out and we got hits at the key times.”
Tyler Kilcrease and T.J. Morgan made diving catches to back King in the outfield and Reeves watched as Welch made a nice stop to his right off the bat of Kilcrease to save a pair of runs in the fourth, then had another dig a first to save a later hit.
Reeves struck out the side twice.
“It’s a big win for our team,” Reeves said. “We hit the ball hard and got some runs there at the end.”