Oak Glen patiently avenges early-season loss to Brooke
NEW MANCHESTER — The Oak Glen and Brooke baseball teams struggled to capitalize on multiple opportunities during Thursday’s contest, but the biggest differences were patience and discipline.
Minus solid pitching performances, that’s exactly how the Golden Bears were able to walk away with a 3-2 victory.
With the game deadlocked at 2-2 in the bottom of the seventh inning, speedster Hunter Patterson led off with a sharp single to left field. He advanced to second on Kaleb Dailey’s sacrifice bunt and then to third after back-to-back walks.
Brooke (1-11) changed its pitcher for the third time in the frame, and it only took three pitches for Patterson to score on a wild pitch. It wasn’t the most exciting finish, but head coach T.J. Miller will take it.
“Hunter Patterson came up big,” Miller said. “He’s in the No. 9 spot, and he’s not a true No. 9 hitter. I put him there because he has good speed and has a good bat, and I want him to start things for the top of the order. He did an excellent job of getting on base, and we had an excellent bunt by Kaleb Dailey. After that, it’s not the way you want to end it, but we’ll take it. A win’s a win.”
Brooke starting pitcher Mason Thompson began the final frame with the leadoff single. Tyler Maczko relieved him, recorded an out on the bunt but walked Michael Lemley and Josh Cline. The Bruins then went to Jakob Bailey, but his third throw sailed over catcher Isaac Lippoli, batter Jon Creese and the home plate umpire.
“You want to make them earn it, but it is what it is,” Brooke head coach Ron Ujcich said. “We also have to throw strikes early in the count. We get the out, the guy goes to second base and we have to make sure he stays at second base. We can’t load the bases on walks and expect to win a ballgame. We had the odds stacked against us in that case.”
Although there was nowhere to put Creese with the bases loaded, Bailey might have been cautious against him. Earlier, Creese hit two doubles, a single and scored twice. The first time he scored came on an RBI single from Konnor Kerr in the second inning, giving the Golden Bears (8-5) a 1-0 advantage.
The second Creese run was a little more complicated. While he stood at third base with no outs in the fourth and the game tied at 1-1, Thompson caught Kerr napping at first base and went for the pickoff. The throw from the first baseman, though, was wide of the shortstop, allowing Kerr to reach safely and Creese to cross home plate.
Brooke plated its runs in the third and fifth innings. The first came on an RBI single from Bailey, but the Bruins wanted more after loading the bases with two away. With the bases loaded again with two outs in the fifth, Alex Lilly delivered an RBI single to right field. Again, the Bruins wished they scored more after stranding all three runners shortly after.
A first-inning mistake by Brooke preceded what was to come. Nick Langley opened the contest with a leadoff triple but was thrown out trying to score on a ground ball hit to Cline at short.
“We had a bunch of opportunities, especially early in the game,” Ujcich said. “We get a leadoff triple and then get thrown out at home because we’re not paying attention. Those are the breaks of the game. The shortstop made a nice play and throw. We had a couple more opportunities, but we held they guy at third because you never know what the other team’s going to do.
“But, when you go into the perspectives of it, you have to get the hits with guys in scoring position. We weren’t efficient with that tonight. It’s been a weakness of ours this year.”
Oak Glen let multiple scoring opportunities slip by, as well. It left runners on second and third with nobody out in the third, the same in the fourth after scoring a run and one away, and runners on first and second with two outs in the fifth.
“I was frustrated we left so many runners on the majority of the night,” Miller said. “We have to do a better job of hitting with runners in scoring position. Having said that, we were gritty at the plate, we saw pitches, worked the counts and got guys on. We also played good defensively, with only a few mistakes. Our discipline at the plate helped us at the end.”
Garrett Brewer picked up the victory in three innings of relief. He allowed a run on three hits, no walks and struck out three. He replaced Dailey, who allowed a run on three hits, three walks and struck out five.
“We have Kaleb on a strict pitch count. He had surgery in the offseason on his throwing shoulder, so we’re slowly rehabbing him back,” Miller said. “We want to make sure we have him as ready and healthy as possible for sectionals. He’s been progressing great.
“We have a lot of confidence in Brewer. He came in and did what we expected him to do.”
For the Bruins, Thompson kept Oak Glen guessing for the most part. He allowed three runs on seven hits, three walks and struck out a pair in six innings.
“Mason threw a great game. He just ran out of gas a little bit. His pitch count was getting high,” Ujcich said. “We haven’t played a ton of games. The OVACs are beginning, and we’ve only played 12 games. So, with that being said, we haven’t had a lot of chances to build the pitch counts. We’re a little weak in that area, but hopefully we can get more nice weather and get more games in down the stretch. We’re gearing for the sectionals because everyone starts off 0-0.”
Oak Glen avenged an early-season defeat to the Bruins, 5-4, on April 5. Despite that being Brooke’s lone victory, Miller was not surprised Thursday’s contest was another close call.
“Any time we play Brooke it’s a good game,” he said. “They play a very tough schedule, so don’t let their record fool you. They’re a good club. Their pitcher pitched a great game and kept us off balance. We definitely have to give credit to him.”
“It’s always been a rivalry and are always close games from as far back as I can remember,” Ujcich said. “You enjoy playing teams like that because, no matter what, we always seem to have good games.”
The Golden Bears have won two consecutive contests after falling to Indian Creek on Tuesday. Their first win this week came against Weir High, 10-9, on Wednesday.
“We have a hungry group right now,” Miller said. “We had a big win against Weir, and hopefully this keeps going. I’m proud of the team. I stressed that we won against a good Weir team, so let’s use that as a motivational booster moving forward. Our team can beat anyone with the way our pitchers are throwing.”
BROOKE: Hosts North Marion for a doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m. today.
OAK GLEN: Welcomes Bridgeport (Ohio) today for senior night.
(Catullo can be reached at email@example.com)
Oak Glen 3, Brooke 2
Brooke 0-0-1 0-1-0 0 — 2-7-0
Oak Glen 0-1-0 1-0-0 1 — 3-7-2
BROOKE (1-11): Thompson (lp, 6IP, 3R, 7H, 3BB, 2K), Maczko (1/3IP, 0R, 0H, 2BB, 0K), Bailey (0IP, 0BB, 0K) and Lippoli.
OAK GLEN (8-5): Dailey (4IP, 1R, 3H, 3BB, 5K), Brewer (wp, 3IP, 1R, 4H, 0BB, 3K) and Kerr.
TWO OR MORE HITS: Brooke (Langley 2, Bailey 2); Oak Glen (Creese 3). DOUBLES: Brooke none; Oak Glen 2 (Creese 2). TRIPLES: Brooke 1 (Langley); Oak Glen none. HOME RUNS: none. RBIs: Brooke (Bailey, Lilly); Oak Glen (Kerr).