In dramatic fashion, the Brookings-Harbor High School baseball team scored four runs in the final inning to snatch a thrilling, come-from-behind victory over the Arcata Tigers Wednesday afternoon in Arcata, CA.
"Our players kept their discipline amongst the chaos," quipped Bruin head coach Keith Wallin following the game. "Our plate appearances got so much better and we started getting quality at-bats in key situations."
BHHS, which was stymied at the plate for five innings by Arcata starter Craig Broadman, but they found their offense to score six runs in the final two innings to steal a tough road victory.
It appeared early on that the Bruins' offense was no match for Broadman, who was on his game from the get-go, no-hitting the Bruins over his five innings of work while striking out nine and allowing only one Bruin to reach first base.
As good as Broadman was, the Bruins (2-0) stayed in the game behind their pitching and defense, turning back several Tiger scoring opportunities and pitching out of several jams. Wallin admits that while the pitching staff didn't have their best outing, they kept his team in the game by leaving 12 Arcata runners stranded over seven innings.
"It (the early deficit) absolutely could have been worse," said Wallin. "They didn't have their best stuff today but they stayed composed and got us out of several jams. That was definitely the key to the game."
That perseverance paid off for the Bruins in the sixth inning, as the Bruins started putting together quality at-bats, scoring two runs to tie the game. With Tiger Caleb Steeves pitching in relief of Broadman, BHHS centerfielder Alec Darger drew a walk to begin the inning. Later, he went to third base on shortstop Justin Murray's single to left field. They would both score later in the inning as the Tiger defense committed two costly errors on two consecutive plays.
Any momentum the Bruins gained at that point was short-lived, as Arcata stormed back in the bottom half of the inning, scoring three runs due in large part to Bruin miscues. BHHS committed two errors, one walk and also hit a batter in the Tigers' three-run frame.
The Bruins refused to go quietly however, as they quickly mounted a rally. First baseman Christian Edwards and Darger drew walks to start off the inning, and they were followed by leadoff hitter Alec McBride's RBI single. Murray then reached on an error by Tiger shortstop Wyatt Tucker, scoring Darger and trimming the Tiger lead to just one run.
After catcher Izak Ehlers reached base on a sacrifice bunt, the Bruins had the bases loaded with no outs. After McBride was picked off at third base, shortstop Wyatt Aldrich followed with a line-drive single to right field, scoring Murray to tie the game at 5-all.
After the Tigers intentionally walked Manley to load the bases in an attempt to get out of the inning with a double-play or cut down the run at home, Bruin third baseman Christian Hooper hit a ground ball to Tucker, who flipped to second for the force-out on Manley, but Hooper hustled down the line to beat the throw and avoid an inning ending double-play, allowing Ehlers to score the go-ahead run from third on the fielder's choice.
"It's absolutely imperative that we do that," said Wallin regarding his Bruins' hustle to beat out three plays at first base during the game. "We have so much team speed that we tell our players that by simply running hard you can get an RBI."
Murray was brought in to close out the bottom of the seventh inning and got himself into trouble by walking the first two batters, putting the winning run on first base with no outs, but he settled in to induce three straight pop-outs to preserve the improbable yet incredible comeback victory.
"We kind of expected to tie the game in the sixth and seventh innings. Our attitudes were great the entire time, especially when it mattered most," said Wallin.
Ehlers picked up the victory with Murray earning the save. Murray also went 2-4 in the game with Aldrich notching two RBIs.
Looking ahead, the Bruins host a doubleheader against Hidden Valley beginning at noon this Saturday.
Special thanks to Kevin Bane and Rob Brown of KURY Radio for providing game broadcast coverage and GameChanger Media Inc. (www.gamechanger.io) for providing detailed statistics.