Baseball: Hall starts hot, holds off Sterling under the lights

Red Devils build lead, hang on when Golden Warriors get bats going late at Gartner Park

Sterling’s Miles Nawrocki tags out Hall's Joel Koch at the plate Wednesday, April 17, 2024 at Gartner Park in Sterling.

STERLING – Hall built an early lead Wednesday night under the lights at Gartner Park, then held off a late Sterling rally for a 5-3 nonconference win.

The Red Devils (9-6) got RBIs from Jackson Pinter in his first two plate appearances to take a 2-0 lead through three innings, then Braden Curran drove in a pair of runs with a double and Luke Bryant added an RBI single – both with two outs – in a three-run fourth for a 5-0 cushion.

“It’s so key getting those first runs, shaking them up a little bit and giving us the confidence to just go up and hit the ball,” Pinter said.

“It sets the tone for the whole team, and the whole game,” Bryant added. “It’s amazing to get that first run; it just gives you the momentum to keep going on each inning.”

Max Bryant allowed just one hit and three baserunners through the first four innings, but the Golden Warriors finally got their bats going in the fifth. Drew Nettleton ripped a two-out, bases-loaded single to drive in a pair of runs, then Garrett Polson scored on a wild pitch to cut the deficit to 5-3.

“I just stayed relaxed and hit my pitch,” Nettleton said. “We just wanted to put the ball in play and make things happen, find a way to get on base and score some runs and put some pressure on them.”

Sterling’s Tatum Allen slides in safe at home plate after a double by teammate Drew Nettleton against Hall Wednesday, April 17, 2024 at Gartner Park in Sterling.

But that’s where the rally ended. Luke Bryant came on in the sixth and struck out five of the eight hitters he faced in the final two innings, stranding the tying run in scoring position in the bottom of the seventh to secure the victory.

“Just get the next out. The runners don’t matter, just try to get that next out, then the next one,” Luke Bryant said. “You just have to pitch with confidence to get the last outs.”

“We just have to play good defense and try to put more runs on the board,” Pinter added. “Keep the pressure on them and make them have to work harder to come back.”

The Warriors (3-11-1) made things interesting in the final frame, as Mason Smithee singled to lead off, then Nettleton reached on an error to put runners on second and third with Eli Penne up. But Luke Bryant struck out Penne to end the threat.

Nettleton (2 IP, 1 ER, 1 H, 3 K, 1 BB), Bryce Hartman (3 IP, 4 ER, 4 H, 4 K, 1 BB, 1 HBP) and Penne (2 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 5 K, 1 BB) were solid on the mound for Sterling, limiting the damage in all but the fourth inning. Penne struck out five of the eight hitters he faced; he struck out the side in the sixth inning, after Nettleton did the same in the first after an error and Pinter’s RBI single.

Sterling’s Bryce Hartman fires a pitch against Hall Wednesday, April 17, 2024 at Gartner Park in Sterling.

“Eli had a really good curveball that was really working tonight. Bryce did well too. I need to do better; my changeup was all right, but that was about it,” Nettleton said. “We’re just always fighting. We don’t like to lose, so we keep working hard to try and find a way to win, even after we fall behind.”

Luke Bryant reached base three times, stole three bases, and scored twice at the top of the lineup for the Red Devils, and Pinter had a single, triple, sacrifice fly, two stolen bases and two RBIs from the No. 2 spot.

“It was huge to get it started at the top of the order,” Luke Bryant said. “Once we get on base, we run the bases pretty well. Once we get guys into scoring position, a single scores two runs for us.”

Max Bryant struck out nine Warriors over the first five innings, and gave up three hits, three walks and two hit batters to pick up the win.

Hall's Max Bryant fires a pitch against Sterling Wednesday, April 17, 2024 at Gartner Park in Sterling.
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