Bears continue to dominate the Metro Athletic Conference.
By John McClanahan
The Brookhaven College men’s baseball team eclipsed the Cedar Valley College Suns with an offensive rally in the seventh inning to take the second game of the series. The Bears fell behind early with silent bats but bounced back to defeat the Suns 6-3 April 7 at home.
“That’s kind of what we’ve been doing all year. … Just keep having good at-bats, and all of a sudden, we’ll blow up for a big inning and turn it over to the bullpen,” Brandon Rains, Brookhaven head baseball coach, said. “That’s kind of the story of our season.”
The Suns quickly boarded the bases to start the first inning. With Bear Antony Orta starting on the mound, Cedar Valley’s J.J. Veloz Jr. hit a high line drive over Alex Massie, Bears right fielder, for a lead-off double. Brookhaven quickly cleared the bags when first baseman Blake Hoffman snagged Sun Tylor Frailey’s soft liner and threw out Veloz at second for a double play. With two outs, Bear Kyle Kincaid retired Sun Jesse Mendoza with a sliding catch off the grass to end the top of the first inning.
Brookhaven’s offense struggled early against Skyler White, Cedar Valley’s starting pitcher. The right-handed freshman would not give the Bears a bite as they went down one, two, three in the first inning.
The Suns’ bats sizzled in the second inning. After two quick outs, Orta walked Cedar Valley’s Alex Garcia, and Sun Shannon Broussard knocked a single over Bear Carlos Reyes Jr.’s head. With two runners on, Daniel Quintanilla, Cedar Valley’s first baseman, launched a fly ball into the left-center gap for a two-run RBI double. The Suns boarded 2-0.
In the top of the third inning, the Suns could not drop a hit past Massie. Frailey blasted a high fly sailing into right field. With his back turned, Massie ran down Frailey’s towering shot and made a basket catch at the wall.
“That was pretty cool. I felt like Willie Mays out there,” Massie said. “I saw it well off the bat. I knew the wind was going to bring it back toward fair territory, so I just kept running, let the ball tail and met it right at the wall.”
The Bears tried to break White’s no-hit bid in the fifth but could not find a hole. The Suns defense kept the Bears scoreless with another 3-up-3-down inning.
In the bottom of the sixth, Reyes spoiled White’s no-hitter with a hard roller past Jorge Palomo, Suns second baseman. “He just threw me a curveball I could hit,” Reyes said. “I just pulled it and got it between the hole.” Massie moved Reyes over to second with a sacrifice bunt.
White walked Orta, and Bear Dylan Palmer slapped a grounder down the third base line past Mendoza. After Rains waved Reyes around third base, the second baseman scored, sliding into home to set the score 3-1.
“He got a single, got us going and then we just started grinding away,” Rains said.
After Orta pitched six innings giving up two earned runs, Travis Angell, Bears left-handed pitcher, came in for the seventh.
The Bears roared in the bottom of the seventh. With Suns pitcher Austin Nicholson on the mound, Hoffman hit a long flyball off the bottom of the fence for a double.
The Bears were not finished with Nicholson as Reyes hit another single up the middle. Quintanilla muffed Massie’s weak grounder and allowed Reyes to score from first with the Suns’ heads down.
With Brookhaven and Cedar Valley tied 3-3, Orta blasted a shot into right field. Orta looked up and flipped his bat as the ball ricocheted off the Brookhaven scoreboard for a two-run home run. “I was feeling it when I went to hit. I was feeling good,” Orta said.
“It was a 3-1 count. He knew he was going to get a fastball, and he did not miss,” Rains said. “He put it on top of the scoreboard and gave us a little bit of a cushion there … it was huge.” Brookhaven 5-3 after the seventh.
Cedar Valley’s Ryder Lognion took the mound in the eighth. After Bear Hunter Hammonds reached first on a fielder’s choice, Hoffman hit a single into right field. With runners at the corners, Bear Gustavo Rodriguez scored Hammonds to push Brookhaven up further 6-3.
Angell earned the win, and the Bears’ dominance continues as they go 21-4 in the Metro Athletic Conference with an overall record of 28-18.