LANCASTER – It wasn’t a tournament game, but it felt like it.
Bloom-Carroll had a first-round bye in the upcoming Division II district tournament, and the Bulldogs were looking for a quality opponent that would prepare them for the post season. They got it Tuesday when they faced Fredericktown —the top-ranked team in Division III.
The Bulldogs — who have been ranked No. 1 all season before dropping into the second spot in the latest coaches poll — got off to a slow start against the Freddies but were able to steadily pull away for a convincing 8-2 victory at Beavers Field.
“We want to prepare ourselves the best we can for the tournament,” Bloom-Carroll coach Brian Thacker said. “We know we aren’t going to see Fredericktown down the road, but we knew it would be a solid opponent and a really good test.
“It gives our pitchers a challenge and gives our hitters a challenge, and it’s not just a throw-in game. It’s easy to be up for tournament games, but when you are playing a team like this, the guys have to be focused and ready to play.”
Bloom-Carroll starting pitcher, Corey Zeller, who improved to 6-0 after giving up five hits, said playing a team like Fredericktown had the Bulldogs’ attention.
“It’s always nice right before the tournament to play a quality opponent because, the first couple of rounds, you don’t get great opponents,” Zeller said. “I didn’t think I pitched that well, so it just shows how good we are as a team that we can still get an 8-2 victory. My defense was solid behind me like they always are.”
The Freddies (23-3) got to Zeller early when lead-off hitter Austin Hathaway hit an opposite-field double. He eventually scored on a sacrifice fly by Trace Hatfield. The Bulldogs (25-2) turned a double play in the second inning, and after that, Zeller seemed to settle in.
“You know what you are going to get from Corey each time out,” Thacker said. “He is always going to keep you in the game. He is not going to blow you away, but he is always going to be around the plate and getting ground-outs. He is just steady every time he goes out there.”
Bloom-Carroll tied it in the bottom of the first when Roger Danison singled and eventually scored on an RBI single by Mitch Lambert. The Bulldogs took a 2-1 lead in the fourth inning on an error.
Bloom-Carroll scored two more runs in the fifth inning. Danison and Chase Cattran hit back-to-back singles to lead off the inning. Danison would score on a sacrifice fly by Lambert, and Cattran scored on a double by Tristen Epp.
The Bulldogs added four runs in the sixth to put the game away. Lambert had two RBIs, and Cattran and Sam Bordner also had a RBI in the inning.
Lambert went 3-for-3 with four RBIs, and Danison was 3-for-4 and scored two runs. Alex Seagraves also had two hits. Sam Bordner pitched in the seventh inning and had three strikeouts.
“We had a long weekend off, and it was good to get back in playing mode,” Thacker said.