"Outstanding effort," the Mercer coach said. "The fact that he threw that well a night after catching nearly a whole game and then coming in to throw nearly 20 pitches to close out last night's win tells you what type of kid he is. He shut Danville down and this has to rank as one of the best, if not the best, effort that a Mercer County team has ever had. To score eight runs off (Danville pitcher Rich Witten) goes to show you how focused our guys were."
Danville (24-11) threatened to score in the top of the first, but came up empty. C.J. Lynn, Rich Witten and Deangelo Durham walked to load the bases, but Bottoms got Ryan Funkhouser to fly out to right field to end the inning.
"We missed our chance to do a lot of damage when we didn't score there," Danville coach Paul Morse said. "Any time you have the bases loaded with one out you should score. Give Bottoms credit for the job he did after the first inning. He shut us down. You're not going to win many games with only two hits."
Scotties get five in the fifth
Witten, who struck out seven Mercer hitters through the first three innings, was touched for five runs on five hits in the fourth. Kameron McRay reached on an infield single, went to second on a wild pitch and got to third when Brandon Scheller laid down a perfect bunt down the third base line. Bottoms solid single to left field plated McRay and John Wickliffe's single to right scored Scheller. John Morgan's sacrifice fly scored Bottoms and Chris Lewis completed the big inning with a towering two-run homer to left center to give the Scotties a 5-0 lead.
"Rich was dominating through three inning and had only thrown 35 pitches," Morse said. "However, he started to get the ball up in the strike zone, and Mercer is a good fastball hitting team. We hit the ball in the air and gave up a lot of outs. Mercer hit it on a line and they made all the plays in the field."
Chitwood said it was just a matter of his players getting their timing down the second time through the lineup against Witten, a sophomore.
"You don't see a lot of pitchers who throw the ball in the high 80's (miles per hour) every day," Chitwood said. "Kam got us going, but I really think the play of the game was when he went to second on the wild pitch. That enabled Scheller to get the bunt down and opened some opportunities for us. Our three, four and five hitters continue to crush the ball. The better the pitcher, the better they hit. It's been that way all year."
Back-to-back home runs by Bottoms and Wickliffe
Back-to-back home runs by Bottoms and Wickliffe enabled Mercer to tack on three insurance runs in the fifth inning and gave the Scotties an 8-0 lead. The inning began when Evan Ethington walked, went all the way to third on Witten's wild pick off throw and he scored on a wild pitch.
Joey Beldon relieved Witten in the fifth inning and pitched the rest of the way.
Beldon and C.J. Lynn had the only hits of the games against Bottoms, who struck out six and walked four.
"We set our goal early in the season to win the region," Chitwood said. "Now that we're in the final, we want to finish the job."