Heritage School stumbles in semifinal series opener
By DOUG GORMAN
Heritage School coach Lynn Huffstickler had his work cut out for him Friday night.
The veteran baseball coach had to convince his troops that their season is not over despite losing 17-2 to Brentwood School Friday in the opening game of the GISA Final Four.
“We lost to Gatewood, 12-7 (in the first round of the playoffs) and then came back and won that series, so we are still really in it. That was a good Gatewood team, and they played with these guys twice.”
Heritage School now faces a must-win situation today at noon if it is going to force a third and deciding contest in the best-of-three series and extend its season. Should the Hawks win the second game, a final game will follow directly afterwards.
“We are not out of it, we just have to focus,” Huffstickler said. “We got beat by a really good team today, but we helped them a little bit. In two innings, we gave up four errors and four walks and you mix two or three hits with that, and it is a disaster.”
Brentwood School starting pitcher Andy Bonifay limited the Hawks to just five hits and they also took advantage of four errors by the Hawks’ normally sure-handed defense.
Brentwood School, which is ranked No.1 in the GISA Class AA poll, put the Hawks’ backs to the wall with 14-hit performance in a game decided by the mercy rule in the fifth inning. Every member in the Brentwood School starting lineup reached base at least one time en route to the victory. The War Eagles scored at least one run in every inning but one, breaking the game open with four runs in the first and nine more in the second. The War Eagles sent 12 men to the plate in the second inning.
Nick Pullen led the way for the War Eagles’ offense reaching and scoring four times. He finished the game with a double and single. His extra base hit in the first also drove in two runs to help open the offensive flood gates.
Scott Hall had three hits for the game, including a single and a double as he batted twice for Brentwood in the second inning. His double drove in two runs during his second at bat in the inning.
Already trailing 13-0, Heritage School had its most productive inning in the bottom of the second with three hits.
Luke Crook and Joe Bonner connected on back-to-back singles, and after a double play by Brentwood, Dalton Tramell drove in Crook with a base hit for the first run of the game.
Tramell ended the day with two hits to lead the Hawks’ limited offense.
Pullen hit the only home run of the game, giving the War Hawks a 14-1 lead in the third inning with a solo shot to dead center field that Candler Rich nearly caught for the out.
The War Eagles did their damage against starting pitcher Mack Wilkens and reliever Luke Smith.
Smith kept Brentwood off the scoreboard in the fourth inning with back-to-back strikeouts for his most impressive inning.
The Hawks’ pitcher then knocked in his team’s second and final run of the game in the fourth with a single.
Brentwood scored its final three runs in the fifth inning after getting RBIs from the bottom of its order as Eli Brantley and Eric Smith connected on base hits.
Win or lose today, Huffsticker is proud of his team for getting back to the Final Four after suffering a loss in the first round of the playoffs last year.
“We have worked hard this year, and I am proud of our guys,” he said.