Griggs Shines On Hill, Jammers Roll To Win
For more than two years, it’s safe to say Bradley Griggs has been a model of inconsistency on mounds from the Lonestar State to the Empire State.
The Jamestown Jammers left-hander hopes Thursday’s performance at Diethrick Park is the start of him pitching like he knows he can.
The soon-to-be Texas-San Antonio junior shut down the Newark Pilots for seven innings, allowing no runs and four hits while striking out seven and walking just one as the Jammers pulled away for an 8-0 shutout in the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League.
“I’ve been working with (pitching coach Hayden) Carter on my offspeed and locating,” Griggs said. “I’m feeling comfortable with my motion and delivery to just attack hitters.”
Griggs could not have picked a better game in which to shine as he did it in front of 1,702 screeching elementary and middle school students on Kids’ Day at the stadium.
“This was really important for the community to see what we’re about and for the kids to see a great baseball game at a great facility,” Jamestown manager Anthony Barone said. “There is nothing better than kids and baseball. It was a great turnout. We are really thankful for all of the schools that decided to come today.
“The guys get pretty jacked up and really want to show off for the kids.”
Two of Griggs’ Roadrunners teammates did most of the damage offensively for the Jammers as Skyler Valentine went 3 for 3 with a double, an RBI and a run scored while Chris Estrada was 2 for 4 with three RBIs and a run scored.
“His confidence was a little down coming into the summer, but when he can get it going for us he is one of the dynamic guys in this league,” Barone said of Valentine. “He just stabilizes our lineup so much.”
Jamestown jumped on top with a three-run third inning thanks to some shoddy Newark defense. John Conti (Canisius College) opened the inning with a single and Jimmy Standohar (Mercyhurst University) followed with a single that turned into a run when the ball got away from the Pilots’ center fielder allowing Conti to score.
Collin Stack (University of Maryland-Baltimore County) then reached when his grounder got under the glove of Newark’s third baseman and Ben Brookover (University of Texas-San Antonio) hit into a double play to bring home the second run of the inning. Christ Conley (Canisius College) followed with a walk and Valentine singled before Estrada’s first RBI single of the afternoon.
“We try to talk about one big inning. … If you can get one of those a game, usually you can win a game,” Barone said. “The biggest thing when you have a big inning is following that up with a zero. Brad did a good job of that today.”
The three runs would prove to be more than enough for Griggs, who needed just 94 pitches to get through his seven innings unscathed. The pitch count was aided by several quick outs as he retired the leadoff batter in all but one inning.
“His command was just phenomenal. In two years now, that’s the best I’ve seen him. He worked ahead and he was so confident in himself,” Barone said. “It’s because of his hard work. … He deserves everything he gets.”
Griggs did manage to escape trouble in the top of the first. After a pair of strikeouts to open the game, Newark’s John Balliet and Peter Battaglia reached on back-to-back singles before Griggs induced a groundout to Standohar at second base to end the frame.
“Last year when things went bad, I kind of showed it on the mound, my body language wasn’t very good,” Griggs said. “This year, I’m just trying to shake it off and attack the next batter.”
Griggs, who has not started a game in 23 appearances during his first two seasons with the Roadrunners, also stranded two runners in the fifth inning when catcher Connor Rule (Kansas State University) picked Graham Hackbarth off first base to end the frame.
“Based on my last outing, I didn’t really start people out with strikes and didn’t get the first out of the inning,” Griggs said. “Today I just tried to throw strikes, get ahead … and find outs.”
Jamestown broke the game open with another three runs in its half of the fifth. Conley was hit by a pitch with one out and Valentine followed with a double down the left-field line before Estrada’s RBI single scored Conley. Rule followed with a sacrifice fly to center field and Conti hit an RBI single to give the Jammers a 6-0 lead.
“The saying ‘one hit leads to another’ is true,” Valentine said. “If a guy in front of you does something good, you have the confidence that this (pitcher) has nothing to get you out with, so you go up there and do the same.”
Stack and Brookover hit one-out singles in the eighth before Conley and Valentine walked to force home the Jammers’ seventh run. Estrada followed with a sacrifice fly to score Brookover.
Jamestown, which had its lone scheduled away game rained out Sunday, now goes east for five straight road games, including two in their division.
“I can’t emphasize how important this was, especially a divisional game,” Barone said. “We have a five-game road trip with three really quality teams. It’s good to end the homestand with a win.”
The Jammers will return home next Friday to take on Oneonta at 7:05 p.m.
NOTES: Conti and Standohar each had a pair of hits out of the Nos. 8 and 9 holes, respectively, for the Jammers. … Colin Johnston (Monroe Community College) and Jacob Gilhaus (Kalamazoo College) got the final six outs on the hill for Jamestown. … Griggs went 4-4 with a 5.86 earned run average last summer for the Jammers.