By John McClanahan
The Brookhaven College men’s baseball team extinguished the North Lake Blazers 10-1 March 3 during a home game. The Bears took the second game in a three-game series with explosive at-bats and dominant pitching.
While hitting 3-for-4, Bears starting pitcher Antony Orta shut down the Blazers’ offense on the rubber.
“There’s no question the core and the strength of our team is our pitching. I thought Antony did a great job getting us to the sixth inning, another quality start,” Brandon Rains, Brookhaven head baseball coach, said.
Orta showed control from the beginning as he struck out North Lake’s lead-off batter, Jordan Johnson, to start the first inning.
The Bears offense connected early when second baseman Carlos Reyes Jr. hit a slow-grounder to third and beat out Blazer Bowie Farris’ throw for a lead-off single. Bears shortstop Hunter Hammonds laid down a soft bunt to move Reyes Jr. over to second. After Hammonds beat the throw to first, Reyes Jr. advanced to third with the Blazers’ heads turned.
With a runner in scoring position, Bears catcher Dylan Palmer grounded into a double play, scoring Reyes Jr. to give the Bears an early lead of 1-0. “We always want to get ahead early and just keep piling it on,” Rains said.
In the top of the second, North Lake’s first baseman Ollie Greco sent a ball flying into the left field corner. Blazers catcher Zach Pavelock followed up with a single to right, putting runners at the corners. North Lake’s Anthony Oslovar then smoked a line drive to Reyes Jr. who snagged the ball and threw out Pavelock, scrabbling back to first for a double play.
Blazers outfielder Keion Seastrunk led off the third inning with a weak dribbler back to Orta for an easy out at first. Johnson followed with a sizzling shot to third, where Bears third baseman Browning Houser made the stop and fired the ball to first for the second out. Another soft grounder back to the mound extinguished the Blazers’ 1-2-3 to end the top of the third.
The Blazers offense showed some life in the top of the fifth after Oslovar hit a solo home run to tie the game 1-1. The Bears finished the inning with little damage as Orta ended his outing with only one earned run.
Relieving Orta to start the sixth, Bears side-armed pitcher Will Norris shook the Blazers with the off-speed as he struck out Greco with a slow-breaking curve. Norris retired Pavelock with a skimmer on the outside corner to end the inning.
Brookhaven’s bats woke back up in the bottom of the sixth. After falling behind in the count, Orta fought off Pedro Cuellar, North Lake’s starting pitcher, by looping a single into left field. The Bears railed as Houser roped one to center to put Orta 90 feet away from home. After going full-count, Bears centerfielder Colton Maiorka blasted a shot up the middle past North Lake’s outfield. Maiorka flew around to third for an RBI triple to put Brookhaven ahead 3-1.
The Bears knocked Cuellar out, and North Lake’s Aaron Hunter came in to relief. Brookhaven’s Alex Massie hit a sacrifice fly to score Maiorka for a 4-1 lead.
In the bottom of the seventh, Bears outfielder Kyle Kinkaid lined a single over Hunter to get aboard. After Reyes Jr. tapped a punt down third, a throwing error put both runners in scoring positions. Palmer capitalized on the error as he drove in both runs, which blew the Bears lead open 6-1.
The Bears were not finished knocking Hunter around. A pair of singles from Orta and Houser extended Brookhaven’s lead 7-1. A hot roller from Massie and a bad throw from North Lake second baseman Justin Visitacion scored another two runs, pushing Brookhaven further up 9-1.
The Bears went to the top of the ninth with a 10-1 lead and turned to right-handed pitcher Chase Morris to finish the Blazers. With North Lake down to their final out, Maiorka ran down a sailing fly ball and made a backward diving catch to seal the Bears’ win. Maiorka said: “I was just reading the ball off the bat and just trying to get a good jump. I had a feeling prior to that.”
The Bears went on to sweep the series against North Lake. Brookhaven’s record improves to 9-11, and the Bears remain undefeated in conference.