As lightning flashed around Captain Shreve High on Thursday, it was the Gators’ bats that provided the spark in a 7-3 win against Haughton.
Senior Bryant Bowen led the way with two doubles that hit the outfield wall in the air, part of Shreve’s nine hits in the win.
Bowen pushed his average above .500 for the season and tied Shreve’s single-season doubles record with 22 (Lance West holds the record).
“I’ve been swinging at pitches that are hittable and not trying to hit the home run every time,” said Bowen, who has 31 RBIs and five home runs this season. “Especially with being a starter for four years, people know my tendacies, so I’ve had to change my approach to hitting hittable pitches instead of trying to pick one out.
“I’ve been able to stay on pitches and stay within myself. I’ve been sitting on pitches like an 0-0 curve … and sometimes I get them even when I’m ahead in the count.”
After Harrison Lawrence drove in the first run, Cameron Jacobs really opened up the game with a two-run triple to push the Gators’ lead to 3-0 in the first inning.
Jacobs finished 2-for-2 with three RBIs and joined Bowen and Justin Skeesick (2-for-4) as Gators (14-12, 5-2 District 1-5A) with multiple hits.
Captain Shreve has scored at least seven runs in 10 of its last 12 games, and coach Todd Sharp said a lineup that was young this past season has benefitted from the added experience.
“They trust our offensive approach, and it really helps to have someonne like Bowen that’s produced all four years, but he’s at a whole other level and maintained that all season,” said Sharp, who monitored the lightning with a detector to make sure the strikes remained at a safe distance. “You have a guy like Skeesick right in front of him, and he has that ability but hasn’t stayed at that high level all year.
“It also helps when people are on base, and other guys hit behind Bowen, and the defense has to change and it opens it up.”
A young Gators’ pitching staff has struggled at times, but Nate Tidovsky worked around Haughton runners to allow three runs on five hits.
Three of Tidovsky’s seven strikeouts came with runners in scoring position as he stranded five Bucs overall.
“I was just throwing strikes and trusting my teammates, and it just happened to work out,” Tidovsky said. “The staff is doing great, and better than I expected without Tanner (Johnson).
“I dropped my arm angle last year, and I feel a lot more comfortable. Come a long way with it.”
Haughton (13-10, 3-4) started the second inning with a Tyler Davis single and Jonathan Plant double, but the Bucs were able to manage just one run on a Kirkland Seals ground out.
Shreve dropped three more runs in the third inning to lead 6-1. Skeesick and Bowen hit consecutive doubles to score Skeesick, and Jacobs and DuBois each drove in runs.
Haughton’s Plant plated Davis, who went 3-for-3 with two runs scored to chop Shreve’s edge to 6-2 before Bowen responded with an RBI double in the fourth inning (7-2 lead).
Haughton’s Nick Heckman took the loss with six runs in 2 2/3 innings.