The Bridgeport baseball team is a much-improved club from 2011.
However, the Bulldogs aren't seeing the results in the win column.
Ted Downing's snake-bitten team came up a run short again Tuesday evening as invading Martins Ferry pushed across a run in the top of the seventh to salvage a 9-8 victory in a game, which lasted nearly three hours before a large turnout at the Niekro Diamond at Bill Jobko Stadium.
MARTINS FERRY’S Michael Neavin slides safely into third ahead of the throw to Bridgeport third baseman Bradley Pritchett during Tuesday night’s game on the Niekro Diamond inside Bill Jobko Stadium. Additional images may be found at cu.timesleaderonline.com
"That's not the same Bridgeport team we played last year by any means," said Ferry head coach Anthony Reasbeck. "I can't give enough credit to Ted Downing and the job he's done. He's come in here in the first year and etched himself in as one of the premier coaches in the valley."
Downing knows his team is close, but he's itching for results and he'll have to wait until at least Saturday as his team takes three days off.
"We hang in there and don't quit, but the story of our season, so far, has been one bad inning," Downing said. "We've lost by one run, two runs twice and four runs and now again by one. We're fighting, and at some point, if we don't give up, we're going to turn the corner because we're close."
With the game tied at three, the teams traded five-run fourth innings. Martins Ferry's rally was fueled by a ringing two-run double by Tyler Strama and a two-run single by Joe Myers.
In the home half of the fourth, the Bulldogs strung together five consecutive singles following a lead-off Purple Riders' error to score five times.
Talented freshman shortstop Bailey McGrath had a big two-run hit and Chris Pritchett and catcher Zach Blamey both followed with RBI base knocks.
Both teams threatened in the fifth and sixth innings as well. Martins Ferry left three runners in scoring position in those frames, while the Bulldogs left the sacks loaded in the fifth and two aboard in the sixth.
Martins Ferry went to work in the seventh. Speedy shortstop Andrew Chlon reached on an error in the infield and then a throwing error allowed him to race to second. Michael Oberdick, who came on in relief of Jonathan Carlier to earn the eventual mount win, legged out an infield single.
Strama then enduced a walk to load the bases with nary an out. Tyler Donahue was plunked, forcing Chlon home with what proved to be the game-winning run.
Bridgeport avoided further damage when it got a 1-2-3 double play and a pop out to end the threat.
Oberdick allowed a two-out single in the seventh, but recorded his four strikeout in three-innings of work, to nail down the victory.
"These guys are going to give me a heart attack," Reasbeck joked. "This was a good high school baseball game and both teams battled to the end. I am just glad we had one more run."
Martins Ferry pounded out 10 hits in the game. Chlon had two hits, including a double; Oberdick had three singles; Seth Scott added two singles.
Bridgeport, meanwhile, was led by McGrath's two hits and three RBI. Blamey also had a pair of hits and like number of RBI. Bradley Pritchett had two hits.
MF 021 500 1 - 9 10 2
Bpt 210 500 0 - 8 8 3
BATTERIES: Carlier, Oberdick (5) and Donahue. Gregorcic, Kreiter (4), Blamey, Pritchett (5), Blamey (6).