ALCOLA — Starting their home opener with a bang, the Redbank Valley Bulldogs set the tone early with three home runs in their first four at-bats of the day and held on for a 6-4 win over visiting Karns City at a sun-splashed Redbank Valley Municipal Park Tuesday afternoon.
The impressive start in the bottom of the first against Karns City starter Cole Sherwin:
Tate Minich flyout
Hudson Martz blast to straightaway center for homer No. 1
Bryson Bain rocket over the left-field fence to make it back-to-back.
Then Kobe Bonanno’s homer, the longest of the three, to make it back-to-back-to-back.
“The momentum was definitely big and on our side early, especially it’s weird when you play a game on a day where you don’t have school,” Bulldogs head coach Craig Hibell said. “We don’t do that very often, so you show up and don’t know what the mood is, so to be able to come out on fire was big for us.”
The 3-0 lead put the Bulldogs up for good, but they had to hold off Karns City. The Gremlins scored twice in the fourth to cut it to 3-2 before the Bulldogs scored twice in the fifth. Again, the Gremlins got it back to 5-4 with two more runs in the sixth before the Bulldogs added an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth to set the final.
The Bulldogs take a 2-0 record into Thursday’s home game with Union. Hibell was happy with his big win early in the schedule.
“With Karns City, it’s Class 2A and the competitiveness of Class 2A and the playoffs this year is going to come down to some of these big games among those opponents,” Hibell said. “Karns City has been a little bit of our big brother in the KSAC for a few years. They’ve definitely had our number in big games, including our last playoff game against them (in Butler in 2019). So it was big for us to just get confidence and a leg up and get another win and the power points we need to get us a good playoff seed.”
A trio Bulldogs combined for the win on the mound with Bain, Martz and Minich. Bain got the win going the first four innings with six strikeouts and a walk while giving up five hits. Martz gave up two runs and three hits in two innings, and Minich notched the save, striking out two and giving up a hit in the seventh.
Mallick Metcalfe led off the fourth with a solo homer and Braden Grossman doubled in a run to get the Gremlins within 3-2 in the top of the fourth.
The Bulldogs stretched it to 5-2 with two runs in the bottom of the fifth. Minich and Bain walked and both came around to score on Bonanno’s two-run single with one out.
Back came the Gremlins with two more runs in the sixth as Zack Blair doubled in a run and scored on Hunter Troutman’s sacrifice fly.
The Bulldogs added a sixth run in the bottom of the sixth and Minich shut the door in the seventh for the win.
Jimmy Gundlach went 3-for-3 with a double and two singles while Bonanno finished with his two hits and three runs batted in.
Next week, the Bulldogs play three games, starting Monday at A-C Valley, then Wednesday at home against Keystone. The visit Forest Area next Thursday.