After losing two times to Brentwood in the regular season, the Ravenwood Raptors baseball team (23-14) broke through to win 4-3 over the Brentwood Bruins (24-10) on Monday night at Brentwood High School in the first round of the regional tournament.
The Raptors powered a four-run inning in the second and relied on the dynamic pitching duo of seniors Blake Bevis and Myles Denton to edge out the Region 6 semifinal win.
“The 'Battle of the Woods' always lives up to the billing,” said Ravenwood head coach Nico Gregoli. “We have played these guys all season long. I am glad our kids stuck with it to the end and finished the job off tonight.”
“The rivalry speaks for itself,” said Ravenwood senior starter Blake Bevis. “They beat us twice earlier in the year, so we needed to come out here with a win to keep our season alive.”
“It is incredibly exciting to do it in a rivalry game, especially in front of their home fans,” said Ravenwood senior third baseman and reliever Myles Denton. “That just makes the victory that much sweeter.”
“I don’t know if people will ever get to experience what we saw tonight,” said Brentwood head coach Bill Moore. “I was excited for our kids to be in this atmosphere. It is one they will remember forever.”
In the top of the first inning, Brentwood starting pitcher Paul Delligatti left two Ravenwood runners stranded by drawing a flyout to left to keep the Raptors scoreless.
In the bottom of the first, Bevis retired the side in order, drawing two groundouts to third and a strikeout swinging to keep Brentwood off the board.
The Raptors surged in the top of the second, tallying four runs in the frame with RBI singles from Denton and junior Jacob Bly and a throwing error by Brentwood to grab the advantage 4-0.
“Those were two big swings,” said Gregoli. “They don’t happen though if Thomas Cooper doesn’t get that two-out walk. If Thomas does not work that at-bat, we are not sitting in the spot we are now.”
“That sparked us because we needed all those runs to secure the win,” said Bevis. “I am just glad they came through.”
“It feels great,” said Denton. “One of the biggest things I was thinking about doing is just hitting the ball; to help the team win at the plate today.”
Brentwood chipped at the lead in the bottom of the second as a runner from third scored on a wild pitch to tally the Bruins first run.
Delligatti, Brentwood’s starter, stranded a runner on base by recording a strikeout to keep the Ravenwood margin at 4-1 in the top of the third.
The Bruins inched closer on a RBI sac fly by senior Aaron Walton to take the game to 4-2 in the bottom of the third.
Delligatti retired the side in order in the top of the fourth, drawing two flyouts and a strikeout swinging to keep the contest at 4-2.
Bevis struck out the side, stranding a runner at third to stay at a 4-2 advantage in the bottom of the fourth.
“Blake has been our horse all year long,” said Gregoli. “He has had one heck of a career here as a Raptor. I am so happy for him the way he performed tonight.”
“Credit to Brentwood, they made me work out there,” said Bevis, a Ball State commit. “My job was to keep our team in the best position to win.”
“I have nothing but positive things to say about that man,” said Denton. “I had a lot of faith in him coming into this game. We have not lost a game with Blake on the mound this year. It feels so good for him to do what we thought he was going to do.”
Delligatti survived a bases-loaded jam in the top of the fifth, collecting a force out at third on a ground ball to remain at 4-2.
Bevis stranded a runner at second, recording a strikeout to keep the game at 4-2 in the bottom of the fifth.
Brentwood senior reliever Zach Atkins went one-two-three in the top of the sixth inning, forcing two groundouts to third and a flyout to left.
Ravenwood’s Bevis continued to cruise in the bottom of the sixth, drawing a flyout and groundout along with a throw to second from junior catcher JP Price picking off the runner trying to steal.
Atkins helped the Bruins stay in the game in the top of the seventh, forcing a flyout to the left and right fields and a caught-stealing on a throw to second by Sparks.
In the bottom of the seventh inning, Brentwood rallied with an RBI single from Aaron Walton to cut the Raptor lead to 4-3.
“He (Aaron) is a great kid who competes,” said Moore. “He does not give at-bats away.”
With runners on second and third for Brentwood, Denton shut the door, recording the final out on a strikeout and securing the save to win the “Battle of the Woods” 4-3.
“Myles has been our stopper all year long,” said Gregoli. “I don’t know where we would be without those two guys (Blake and Myles) on the mound. To make that one pitch (2-2 count) that ended the inning on a nasty breaker to a really good hitter in the box just tells you the type of competitor he is.”
“This has kind of been my spot all year long,” said Denton. “If the team gets in a jam and they need a guy to finish the job; I am really happy to get it done.”
“He is built for this moment,” said Bevis. “If you would ask any guy who I would want on the mound to close it out, it would be Myles.”
Brentwood's season comes to an end with the loss.
“They didn’t quit; they kept on playing all seven innings,” said Moore. “It was fun to watch.”
Ravenwood will take on Centennial in the Region 6 final on Wednesday night at home at 6:30.
“They are a really good club,” said Gregoli. “They are a team that I had penciled in, going back to January. I was telling people, don’t sleep on Centennial; they are going to be a tough matchup.”