By Kurt Hyde
Freshman pitcher Brice Springer pitched almost six innings of shut-out baseball to earn his first collegiate win as the Brookhaven College Bears rallied from a 4-7 deficit to beat the Richland College Thunderducks 9-7 April 20.
Springer said he felt great and his pitches were working. “The defense helped me out,” he said.
The Thunderducks scored five runs in the first inning and one run in each of the next two innings to establish the 4-7 lead. That’s when Bears coach Brandon Rains put Springer in to pitch. The Bears defense held the Thunderducks scoreless for the rest of the game.
The score held at 7-4 until the top of the seventh inning when the Bears scored three runs to tie the score.
The Thunderducks threatened to score in the bottom of the seventh inning with runners on first and second with no outs.
The Bears, anticipating a sacrifice bunt, called a defensive maneuver known as a wheel play.
Third baseman Garrett Hackley inched in, looking for a bunt. Once Hackley saw it was a bunt, he charged in, fielded the ball, and got the lead runner throwing to shortstop Shane Sharkey covering third.
The defensive gamble paid off for the Bears as the next Thunderduck batter hit into an inning-ending double play. That was the last scoring threat by the Thunderducks.
The Bears rallied for two runs in the top of the eighth inning to supply the winning margin.
During the comeback, Jeff Sealy stole second base and noticed the ball got by the defender and rolled into center field. Sealy raced to third base, beating the throw from the center fielder.
He said only one thought was on his mind during the play: “Better make this, or I’m gonna hear from coach.”
Frankie Valdez took the mound during the bottom of the eighth inning to finish the game, continuing the streak of shutout innings, throwing a large number of breaking- ball pitches. “That’s my go-to stuff,” Valdez said. “It’s my K pitch.”
As of press deadlines, the Bears remain in fourth place, tied with Mountain View College in the Metro Athletic Conference. The top four teams go to the postseason, which will be held the weekend of May 5.
Rains said he expects his team to make the playoffs. “Our destiny is in our hands now,” Rains said.