Culver Bulldogs 9-3 in league play, ready for highly ranked Kennedy Trojans this week.

STEELE HAUGEN - alo Gutierrez tracks down a line drive hit to right field. The Bulldogs have won eight of their last 10 games. The Culver Bulldogs baseball team swept Country Christian this week to improve their league record to 9-3.

Culver played the Cougars April 22, in their first matchup and came away with a 6-3 victory at Country Chistian.

Jamal Ortiz pitched most of the game for the Bulldogs, with Tadd Anderson coming in to close the game. Ortiz ended the game with six strikeouts in fewer than 85 pitches.

"We were putting the ball in play and they had a couple of errors that we capitalized on," head coach Joey Graves said. "It was mostly just putting the ball in play for us."

Anderson went 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI, while Ortiz ended the game 2-for-4 at the plate with a single and a double.

Doubleheader wins

In the first game of a doubleheader against Country Christian April 26, Culver hosted the Cougars and the game came down to the last inning of play.

The game was scoreless in the first two innings, but Culver scored two runs in the third.

Justice Loredo hit a line drive triple down the third baseline for a triple to start things off for Culver. Anthony Hood was walked and later stole second base.

Brayden Macy stepped into the batter's box and hit a two-RBI double to shallow left field, scoring the first two runs of the game.

Country Christian hit an RBI double to left field and an RBI double to center field to tie the game in the top of the fifth inning.

Culver was back up to bat and with Cylus Hoke at second base, Brody Little hit a ball to shallow left field for an RBI.

The Bulldogs had a 3-2 lead at the top of the seventh inning and needed to keep the Cougars from scoring to end the game.

Country Christian was able to get on base and later scored on a wild pitch, sending the game to the bottom of the seventh inning tied at 3-3.

Ortiz was first to bat for Culver and blasted the ball to center field for a ground-rule double. Cylus Hoke advanced Ortiz to third base with a picture perfect sacrifice bunt.

STEELE HAUGEN - Jamal Ortiz makes a play at third base. Ortiz hit a ground-rule double in the bottom of the seventh inning, helping Culver beat Country Christrian 4-3 April 26."When Jamal (Ortiz) hit that ground-rule double and Cylus (Hoke) laid down that bunt, it really set the tone for that inning, said Graves.

Lalo Gutierrez stepped to the plate with two outs and a runner on third. He was hit by a pitch and so was Loredo, loading the bases for Anthony Hood.

Hood had a patient approach at the plate, forcing the pitcher to throw strikes. Hood was walked and the Bulldogs scored the game winning run.

"We had some trouble hitting the ball and kept leaving runners on bag," Ortiz said. "They hung in there with us and I don't think they should have. We just really needed to get the bats going. When I hit the ball, I was just thinking base hit, let's get on the bag. Small ball is very important and it can cost you the game in win, loss situations."

Bats get going

In the second game of the doubleheader and last game in the series, the Bulldogs hit the ball well, beating Country Christian 10-8.

Culver scored six of their 10 runs in the first inning, hitting the ball extremely well. They scored one run in the fourth inning and one run in the fifth inning to keep a strong lead.

The Bulldogs scored two more runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to score their 10th run of the game.

"Defensively, we struggled a bit," said Graves. "We had some crucial errors and they capitalized on those. They also hit the ball better in game two."

The Bulldogs play against their toughest competition this week, the Kennedy Trojans. Kennedy is 16-2 overall, 9-0 in league play and is the No. 2 rated 2A team in the state. Culver has won four games in a row, eight out of their last 10 games and are 8-3 in league play.

"We are not going to change anything up; we are just going to keep practicing hard," said Graves. "The coaches talked about who we are facing a little bit, but if we just play our game, we will be in the game for sure. We don't want to switch things up too much and get the kids to overthink things. It is just another baseball game and baseball is a sport where, whatever teams shows up that day, has the best chance of winning."

The Bulldogs travel to Kennedy Monday, May 6, and Friday, May 10. They host the Trojans at 4 p.m. Thursday, May 5.

"The team has really just been hanging in there and staying positive," said Ortiz. "We don't let each other down and we always keep trying to pick each other up. The team needs to work hard in practice to get ready for Kennedy. We had some great games with them last year, so we all know we can compete with them this year."

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