Bruins unable to hold late lead against Cadets
WHEELING — Linsly baseball coach Jay Cartwright spoke to his team before hitting in the bottom of the fifth, and the players responded to his message.
The Cadets (3-0) pushed across four runs in the frame, and relief pitcher Gionni Ferguson slammed the door on the mound in a 5-2 win over Brooke on Thursday.
“We just had to make some adjustments at the plate,” Cartwright said. “We needed to see the ball a little deeper. Their pitcher (Charlie Fuscardo) had us off balance. He did a really nice job. Everything came out of the same slot, he changed speeds really well and he was kind of short-arming the ball but had a lot on it.
“I think it was a little tough for our guys to adjust to the first couple of innings. But, we made a couple of adjustments, and I think their pitcher got a little tired because nobody is stretched out that much yet. He threw a heckuva game, and they have a nice team.”
Freshman Alex Taylor was hit by a pitch to lead off the fifth for Linsly, and seniors Kobe Hill and Zac Taylor drew walks to load the bases for senior Hunter Kelley.
With the Cadets trailing 2-1, Kelley ripped a two-run double to left field to put his squad on top. A sac fly by Brodie Selmon and an RBI single from Ferguson gave Linsly the 5-2 lead.
“I’m proud of our kids,” Cartwright said. “They got down twice and came back to pull it out. Our senior leadership has been huge. We had the right veteran guys at the plate that inning. Zac walked and Hunter — with the bases loaded — got a two-strike hit through the hole to knock in two. He’s a good hitter. I told him before his at-bat that there is nobody else I’d rather have up there. He smoked it, and that was the beginning.”
Brooke received a stellar start from Fuscardo, who tossed four innings with three strikeouts and two walks.
“Early in the season, we’re working pitch counts,” Brooke coach C.J. Besece said. “Charlie kept them off balance, and for a sophomore, I think he did a great job of mixing it up, but he got up there in pitches a little bit, and we had to make a change.”
Besece also credited catcher Isaac Lippoli for a well-caught game and for overcoming adversity.
“(Lippoli) had a really bad knee injury in football and had major surgery on it,” Besece said. “It was really bothering him the first couple of weeks of practice, so we rested him and moved him positions. He said he started feeling better after Tuesday’s game, and he told me he wanted to try to catch again. So, we gave him a shot Wednesday at JM, and he has done a great job the last two games behind the dish. He has really stepped up as a senior leader.”
Brooke captured the lead in the third on an error, and Linsly knotted the game in the bottom half of the frame on a Zac Taylor RBI double to plate Collin Paull.
The Bruins retook the lead in the fourth on a bases-loaded walk by Alex Garrett before the Cadets struck in the fifth.
Paull fanned four and walked six in more than three innings pitched before Ferguson came on to strike out four and earn the win.
“We got some quality relief pitching and Collin Paull battled early,” Cartwright said. “It was a good relief effort from Gionni. He’s only a sophomore, and he’s going to be a good one.”
Cartwright also commented on the death of former Brooke baseball coach Ron Ujcich, Jr. this offseason.
“I missed Ronnie Ujcich (Thursday),” Cartwright said. “I coached against him all the way back in the 1990’s doing JV ball. It’s just a heartbreaker.”
Linsly 5, Brooke 2
Brooke 0-0-1 1-0-0 0 — 2 2 2
Linsly 0-0-1 0-4-0 x — 5 8 1
BROOKE: Fuscardo lp (3K, 2BB), Shorts (5) (0K, 1BB), Hornick (5) (1K, 0BB) and Lippoli. Lauttamus D; Garrett rbi.
LINSLY: Paull (4K, 6BB), Ferguson (4) (4K, 1BB) and Taylor. Taylor S, D, rbi; Kelley D, 2rbi; Selmon S, rbi; Ferguson S, rbi.