AAAA State Championship: Sumter Gamecocks at Byrnes Rebels, Game 2


By: Barry Mabry – May 18, 2011

The AAAA State Championship continued tonight and it was crunch time for the Byrnes Rebels. After dropping Game One of the series Monday in Sumter 11-0, they turned to junior Zach Bridgeman to get the job done and tie this series up to send it to the rubber match on Friday. Sumter brought the sticks to the yard in the opener against Rebels Ace Daniel Gossett and looked to carry things over here in the Upstate tonight. A packed house was on hand (estimated over 2,000 fans) and both teams were ready to face off. With fans surrounding the entire field and both student sections in full effect, there was no time to waste. It was game time.

-Bridgeman dominates; Byrnes forces game three-

Bridgeman knew his team needed a quality outing from him tonight to send his Rebels to a third and final game on Friday. It is not as if this was uncharted territory for the junior, as he has done it the entire latter part of the season. To have a quality outing is one thing, but to do what Bridgeman did tonight was something special.  

Sumter’s starter and SMC signee Josh Kisamore got the nod for the Gamecocks and threw very well, hurling 5 2/3 innings allowing five hits and fanning four. Both teams went scoreless in the first inning. The bottom half of Byrnes lineup produced a run in the second to take an early lead. Andrew Cleveland singled with one out and after a stolen base, Matthew Teal smoked an RBI double to put Byrnes ahead 1-0.

Bridgeman surrendered his first hit in the top of the third to freshman Phillip Watcher (who is a stud) but Sumter failed to manufacture anything from it due to a failed bunt and Bridgeman snapping sliders off left and right to keep them off-balance. Kisamore went 1-2-3 in the bottom half.

Bridgeman bounced right back and matched Kisamore with his own 1-2-3 inning in the fourth as both pitchers breezed through each other’s lineups.

An uncommon error from the Gamecocks’ Bruce Caldwell to lead off the fifth presented another opportunity for the Rebels to tack on another run. With a runner on second and two outs, Clemson commit Steven Duggar busted a singled to left that brought Wade Metcalf home. 2-0 Byrnes.

The Rebels added another run in the sixth on a wild pitch from a tiring Kisamore, making it 3-0. This ended his night which brought Caldwell in to get out of the jam.

With momentum on his side and a one-hitter in his back pocket, Bridgeman went out to close this one up in the seventh. After retiring the first two hitters, well-deserved fatigue set in. With two outs, Kisamore singled bringing the freshman Watcher back to the plate. Watcher laced an opposite-field line shot (that was deflected off Byrnes’ leftfielder Reed Rohlman’s glove) and went over the fence for a two-run homerun, making it a 3-2 game. Bridgeman walked the next batter and Byrnes knew it was time to make a change. Alex Cunningham came straight from shortstop to close things out. Cunningham blew the next batter away with 92-93 MPH bolts to end this game forcing a Game 3 on Friday.

*Game 3 will be Friday night at Gilbert High School, first pitch will be at 7:30. Future college rivals will face off once again when Sumter’s Jordan Montgomery (USC) toes it up against Byrnes’ Daniel Gossett (Clemson).   

Final Score: Byrnes 3 Sumter 2  WP: Zach Bridgeman  LP: Josh Kisamore  SV: Alex Cunningham 2B: Teal (B)  HR: Watcher (S)

Check out this link for more coverage: Sumter/Byrnes 

-Prospect Info: Byrnes Rebels-bridgemanz-sign11.jpg

Zach Bridgeman-Junior, Uncommitted, RHP/3B: What can you say? Bridgeman threw a gem tonight and did it in his usual way, snapping 73-75 MPH sliders off like it was his job. He allowed three hits, two walks, and struck out five in his 6 2/3 innings of work. There is no question about this guy being a legit competitor and I have to give it to him, his benders were consistent all night long. They never flattened out nor did they lose velocity. I did see him take a different approach during the third and fourth innings however which was a good sign for things to come. He started using his fastball and change up to his advantage and mixed things up very well. Fastball sat 82-85 MPH, Changeup 73-75 MPH. If he can transfer the confidence he has in his slider over to his changeup and turns 82-84 MPH into 87-89 MPH, a year from now he will be heading off to a major DI school. He has the size (6-5/200), the attitude, the slider, the experience of pitching in big games, and most of all, the inner desire to win already. Good things lie ahead. Very nice job tonight!

clevelanda-c10.jpgAndrew Cleveland-Senior, Uncommitted, C: Got to give this guy a shout out. Not only did he square some baseballs up tonight (1-for-2 with a single, a line shot to the leftfielder, and a walk) but also he called a great game behind the plate. I only saw Bridgeman shake him off once and it was a fastball off the plate. Cleveland is tough as nails, does a nice job keeping balls in front of him, and looks to have a feel for the mental side of catching and reading hitters. Tonight was the best pop time I have seen from him (2.03 and 2.09 in game). A great catcher can be a pitcher’s best asset and tonight I thought he and Bridgeman did an excellent job working together.

cunninghamalex-stance11.jpgAlex Cunningham-Junior, Coastal Carolina commit, SS/RHP: Cunningham had a chance to display himself in many different areas of the game tonight flashing his versatility. Even though he committed an error, Cunningham plays his position very well. He made a solid backhanded play where he showed off his rifle across the infield in the third inning. Swift is the best words to describe him in the field. At the plate he was 1-for-3 with a line shot to left late in the game. Cunningham is also used as a closer and tonight I see why. His first pitch was 93 MPH. He then proceeded to blow four more 92 MPH fastballs that ended the game. Oh, and yes, that is a yellow hammer he has in the bag also. We will see how he flourishes but he should not eliminate anything as of yet. There is definitely a possibility of him being a consistent two-way guy at the DI level.

Notables: Steven Duggar (Junior, Clemson commit, CF); Matthew Teal (Senior, 2B)

-Prospect Info: Sumter Gamecocks- kisamorejosh-power10.jpg

Josh Kisamore-Senior, SMC Signee, RHP: Probably not the best stuff he has had all year but what a great job battling and keeping his team in the ballgame. Fastball sat 85-87 MPH early on then settled to 83-85 MPH in later innings. His slider was sharp at times and also sweeping at times. He needs to be cautious of his arm slot, as it dropped as the game progressed. Staying on top of things while being a low-¾ arm slot guy does him justice because he keeps his tilt on all sliders and creates arm-side run on his fastball. I like him staying at the slot he is at now. Kisamore moves quick for a bigger guy and really has solid pick-off moves. Would like to see him develop a windup; he pitches from the stretch the entire time (heard he was just recently added to the starting rotation once Jeremy Buckner went down). Looks to have a pitcher’s mentality and should flourish next season in JUCO.  

watcher_phillip.jpgPhillip Watcher-Freshman, Uncommitted, 3B: I was anxious to see this puppy play tonight and he did not disappoint. I got to see him swing it during BP and was all smiles after his first cut. Watcher is flirting with being the best freshman position player in the state. I know he is up there in my book and what I have seen this year. It is going to be interesting to see how his body fills out but this youngin’ can flat out play. Very impressed with his poise and how he carries himself. You will be hearing more of Watcher (and his twin brother) the next three years, trust me. 

Notables: Bruce Caldwell (Senior, SMC Signee, SS), Michael Blackmon (Senior, USC-Sumter Signee, C)