R.J. Bourne came within one single of a no-hitter on Tuesday night, leading the Bluefield Beavers into the semifinals of the Coppinger Invitational baseball tournament with a 10-0 five-inning victory over Grundy at Bowen Field.
Bourne struck out 12 of the 18 batters he faced, including the first five. He threw 76 pitches and issued three walks, two to Dylan Wolford.
“My arm felt pretty good and I had my team behind me,” Bourne said. “I had my curve ball working, and I did a decent job of placing the ball.”
Grundy (2-3) head coach Scotty Bostic said, “That kid just kept us off balance the whole game. His fastball was good. It seemed like we were just late, the whole game. just never could get around on him.”
“Tonight, we just couldn’t get a piece of anything.”
Bluefield head coach Justin Gilbert said, “He located his fastball and had a curveball with it, sort of kept them guessing.”
“He put it over the plate. Some of them they swung and missed, some of them he got, and the other ones that he put out there, the other guys fielded. That combo’s going to win you any game.”
“We just made the plays, and he threw strikes, and that’s a deadly combo.”
On the other hand, Grundy was sidetracked by six errors which all seemed to come at the worst times. Three Bluefield runs, including the final one that ended the game, came on wild pitches, and another run scored on a passed ball.
Bluefield reached double-digit scoring with only seven hits. Leadoff batter Marcus Santoro scored three runs and had an RBI double and a stolen base, and Randy Maxey was 2 for 3 at the plate.
Bourne, Trevor Mullins and Christian Oster picked up singles in the Beavers’ five-run fourth inning, which included Tyler Brooks’ RBI double that shot over the third-base bag and rolled past the left-field corner.
Brooks said, “I got up there and I wanted to advance the runners. I saw a good opening up the third baseline, and I sat back on the ball and drove it down, then I just hustled my hardest to get to second and try to get some runs in.”
Charles McCoy broke up Bourne’s no-hit bid with two outs in the fourth, slapping a fly ball that landed in shallow center field a few feet from center fielder Justin Carter, who slid along the grass in an effort to make the out.
Bourne said, “It didn’t really bother me. I just had to stay focused. ... I don’t care about a no-hitter as long as my team gets the win.”
McCoy was the first of three Grundy pitchers. He gave up three hits and four runs, two of which were unearned. Ethan Cooper pitched the fourth, and Daniel Tiller was called upon in the final frame.
Bluefield’s Jeremy Thompson ended the game via the mercy rule when he dashed home from third base on a wild pitch with two outs in the bottom of the fifth.
Gilbert said it had been eight years since Bluefield reached this far in the Coppinger.
“When you send out the paperwork for this tournament, Bluefield High is on the letterhead, so it means a lot to me ... and I’ve tried to convey that to the guys,” he said. “This is a tournament that I would like Bluefield High to excel in, and not be a one-and-done.”
Bluefield (5-4) has won three straight after snapping a four-game losing streak.
Gilbert said, “With a couple of the rainouts, we’ve done some classroom sessions. We broke down into groups and did some different things in practice, just to get a different focus, to see things a little differently.”
“Tonight it showed, and I’m hoping it’ll carry to tomorrow night.”
Bostic said, “They’ve got a good program. The defense was strong. ... We just start tomorrow and try to get better. That’s all you can do, is to keep improving every day.”
Bluefield took a 7-0 win from Montcalm last Saturday to advance to the quarterfinals in this year’s single-elimination Coppinger tournament.
The Beavers will take on Tazewell today at 7 p.m. in the Coppinger semifinal round. The Bulldogs defeated PikeView 7-2 last Saturday to reach the semifinals.
Gilbert said, “Tomorrow night we’ll have our hands full. I have tons of respect for Tazewell and for what Coach (Aaron) Buchanan and Coach (Mke) Catron do, year in, year out. Hopefully, it’ll be a good game tomorrow night.”
“I just like being considered with the four teams that are in it. Princeton, Richlands and Tazewell (are) always dominant teams in this area.
“That’s something I’ve worked on since I got here, is to get ourselves in the upper echelon of teams. We’re still working, but we’re going to give it our best tomorrow night.”
Brooks said, “Hopefully we can come out just like we came out today, more motivated and excited that we got to play another game in the Coppinger.”
— Contact Tom Bone at
At Bowen Field
Grundy..........000 00 — 0 1 6
Bluefield........103 51 — 10 7 1
Charles McCoy, Ethan Cooper (4), Daniel Tiller (5) and Jordan McCoy. R.J. Bourne and Randy Maxey. WP - Bourne. LP - C. McCoy.