By Sam Doherty
Copy Desk Chief/Sports Editor
After winning their last six games, the Brookhaven College Bears baseball team continued their streak by beating the St. Edward’s University Hilltoppers 6-5 in extra innings on March 21.
Brandon Rains, Brookhaven head coach, handed the ball to Gio Soler to start the game. Soler got off to a quick start, retiring the first three batters he faced in the first inning. As he took the mound in the second, he got the first batter to fly out and struck out the second with a splitter.
After a Hilltopper batter got on base via a throwing error, things seemed to unravel for Soler, as he walked the following batter and hit the next Hilltopper in the back with a fastball. Before St. Edward’s could capitalize on the loaded bases, Skyler Sillivent, Brookhaven assistant coach, walked out to the mound.
Soler said Sillivent told him not to worry about the base runners and slow down the baseball. A few pitches later, Soler got Hilltopper Carlos Gilson to ground out to Juan Rivera at third base to get out of the jam.
After Brookhaven was held hitless in the bottom of the second inning, Soler started the third by walking the first batter. A few Hilltopper batters later, Luke Meza finally broke the stalemate by driving Soler’s pitch into left field for a single and the first run of the game, as Michael Milner came around to score.
Soler came to the mound for a final time in the top of the fourth inning and walked Hilltopper batter Matthew DiSalvo. After a passed ball and sacrifice fly to center field, DiSalvo advanced to third base with one out. Aaron Sigal hit a rocket shot to shortstop Junior Rios, who snagged it off of one hop. He quickly threw a dart to Rivera at third base for the second out, as DiSalvo was caught frozen before trying to get back to the bag.
“He’s always tricky,” Soler said. “I wasn’t so surprised. It’s always like that with Junior.”
Soler ended the fourth inning unscathed, and it seemed like Rios’ defensive play reenergized the Bears. Patch Healey started the bottom of the fourth off with a line drive single to left field. One batter later, Rivera drew a walk to put Brookhaven runners on first and second bases.
A Change of Pace
As Rivera crept off first base with a big lead, the St. Edward’s catcher tried picking him off after receiving a pitch. He overthrew the first baseman, and the ball went into foul territory in right field. Healey scooted home from second base to tie the score at 1-1.
After relief pitcher Cameron Copeland came into the game for Brookhaven in the top of the fifth inning and retired the side, Brookhaven came to the plate again in the bottom half of the inning looking to take the lead.
With one out, Carlos Reyes Jr. drew a walk. Marcos Molina stepped to the plate and ripped a pitch to the left field corner for a stand up double. Reyes came around from first base to slide into home plate for the second Brookhaven run of the game, giving the Bears the lead at 2-1.
One batter later, Healey smacked a line drive double to left field, which plated Molina and increased Brookhaven’s lead to 3-1.
Brookhaven came into the seventh inning of the game with a two-run lead. Rains pulled Molina from center field and inserted him into a relief role on the pitcher’s mound. Molina walked two batters before giving up a three-run home run to Milner, who crushed it over the left field fence.
After Molina walked Meza, his third batter of the inning, Rains finally pulled him and placed Doug Palmer into the game as pitcher. Meza came around to score on two fielding errors after a throw down to second base when Palmer struck out two batters to get out of the inning trailing 3-5.
Riley Baker came off the bench and drew a one-out walk. Alex Massie then came in to pinch run for him. Molina stepped to the plate looking for redemption after he faltered in the top half of the inning. He reprieved himself by clubbing a frozen rope to right-center field. The ball bounced to the outfield fence, allowing him to advance to second base and Massie to third.
Rios then smacked a hard ground ball to the Hilltopper shortstop, and as soon as he threw it to first base, Massie took off for home. He crossed the plate without a throw, cutting the deficit to one run at 5-4, as Molina advanced to third base. Healey then stepped to the plate. The pitch got away from the Hilltopper catcher, and Molina did not hesitate. He sprinted toward home, tying the game at 5-5.
Road to Victory
After Brookhaven pitcher Dalton Yearwood got the final out of the eighth inning with a face-first diving catch by Molina in center field, Brookhaven came back up to the dish looking to send the Hilltoppers home with a crushing defeat.
Adam Diehl led off the inning with a blooper behind third base, barely landing in fair territory for a single. After a sacrifice bunt by Rivera advanced Diehl to second base, Isaac Geisinger ripped a single to center field, moving Diehl over to third base.
Rains then signaled for a suicide squeeze. Brian Canida laid the bunt down perfectly toward the right side of the infield, just aside the outstretched glove of the Hilltopper pitcher. Diehl sprinted down the third base line. He crossed the plate without a throw and was quickly greeted by his teammates running onto the field celebrating Brookhaven won the game 6-5.
Both Healey and Molina went 3-4 in the game with a pair of doubles each, according to njcaa.org. Yearwood picked up the win for Brookhaven to give him a 3-2 record for the season as Soler got the no-decision.