Taking one for the team
Reivers' Tierney hit three times by pitches in win
Ouch. Ouch. Ouch. Take your base.
Iowa Western Community College shortstop Brandon Tierney got plunked by a pitch in each of his first three plate appearances Sunday, but any pain is temporary, and a run down to first base is a good start in alleviating the throb.
As is scoring a run after one, which he did in the sixth inning.
As is a win, which the Reivers earned, 4-1, over Spartanburg Methodist (S.C.) College in an elimination game.
Getting hit by a pitch is preferable to what he’d feel if Tierney bailed out of the batter’s box. Eventually he’d have to return to the dugout and face the music, a not-so-happy tune from Reivers coach Marc Rardin, whose players had been hit by 91 pitches entering the Alpine Bank Junior College World Series.
Iowa Western’s total leads the 10-team tournament field, followed by 87 hit batsmen for Polk State (Fla.) College and 77 for Neosho County (Kan.) Community College. Cisco (Texas) College had the fewest hit batsmen with 19, which is 14 fewer than Shelton State (Ala.) Community College.
“It’s kind of more the fear of getting run by the coach than getting out of the way (of the ball),” Tierney said of standing his ground when an inside pitch tails toward his torso.
“Coach Rardin has always emphasized: If he pitches it in, and it’s going to hit you, don’t move out of the way, because it just means we get on base. It makes the pitcher cautious of bringing it in next time.”
Rardin said he expects his players to be tough, but he added, “We never, ever are trying to get hit. I don’t like that at all.”
If an aggressive pitcher tries to take more than the space over home plate, though, his batters will remind them their mistake yields base runners for the Reivers.
“If you’re aggressive, and you’re ready, trying to hit, and they miss and throw literally at you, the name of the game is base runners,” Rardin said.
Spartanburg coach Tim Wallace assured his pitcher did not hit Tierney intentionally.
“We’re not throwing at anybody,” he said. “We’re not good enough to throw at anybody.”
Iowa Western’s Grant Kay thought he was heading to first base after getting hit by a pitch in the seventh inning, but he made no attempt to move out of the way, and the umpire called it a strike instead. Kay eventually struck out.
“Grant stood in there and didn’t show much, and obviously you didn’t see me argue or anything like that,” Rardin said.
In his fourth plate appearance, Tierney bunted the first pitch back to the pitcher for a sacrifice. As a result, he finished the game without an at-bat.
Tierney said he doesn’t think about his statistics, just doing his part to win games.
“I’m more of a motivator,” he said, “and if that means getting hit by a pitch three times, then I’m gonna wear it.”
Tierney also was hit by a pitch Saturday in a loss to San Jacinto (Texas) College-North.
He now has the team lead with 15, two more than Damek Tomscha and Tanner Krietemeier.
The top individual entering the tourney, however, is Polk State’s Conor Szczerba. He’s been hit by 25 pitches. No. 2 is Western Nevada College’s Derrick Pitts with 17.