GISA Baseball Playoffs
Brookwood ends Heritage School's season
by Doug Gorman
The Heritage School Hawks watched their baseball season come to an end Saturday with a 7-4 loss to the Brookwood School in the first round of the GISA Class AAA tournament.
With Saturday’s victory, Brookwood was able to complete the sweep of Heritage School after opening the best of three series Friday with a 4-1 victory.
Heritage School centerfielder Candler Rich did his part in trying to keep his team in the series. The senior ended his high school baseball career with a two solo home runs and a third base hit to account for three of the Hawks’ RBIs.
The Warriors, however, also used the long ball to their own benefit.
With Brookwood only up 5-4 in the bottom of the fifth, Cale Deese put some distance between the Warriors and the Hawks with his solo home run.
Five other seniors joined Rich in playing their last high school games for Heritage, including Luke Crook, Sam Pulsipher, Tyler Nix, Joe Bonner and Patrick McKee
“Hopefully our younger players will realize what this group of seniors did for this team in terms of leadership, and they will step up and do the same thing next year,” Heritage School head coach Lynn Huffstickler said.
(To view photos from this game, visit http://photos.times-herald.com/mycapture/ and click on Sports for the Photo Gallery.)
The season-ending loss spoiled a solid day for starting pitcher Luke Smith who struck out four.
Crook put the catcher's gear on for the final time despite spending part of Friday night in the emergency room and also helped keep his team in the game.
“I thought they worked really well together,” Huffsticker said. “Crook called a really good game.”
The Hawks couldn’t overcome four errors with two resulting in runs in the second and third innings and spent most the afternoon trying to chase down the lead.
With the Hawks batting first on Saturday, Rich gave the Hawks an early lead when he smacked a one-ball, two-strike pitch to left field to start the game.
“It really set the tone for us early,” Huffstickler said. “It just did’t hold up because we made too many mistakes.”
The Warriors left five runners on base in the second and third innings, but were still able to push two runs across in each of those innings.
Brookwood pushed the lead to 2-1 in the bottom of the second when Chandler Stencel doubled and scored on a Deese base hit.
Bradley Clark walked to keep the inning alive for the Warriors and came home on one of the Hawks’ three errors in the game.
Rich briefly tied the game at 2-all when he ripped the second of his two home runs in the contest.
The Warriors stretched the lead to 4-2 in the bottom of the third, taking advantage of four base hits. From there, Brookwood never trailed again.
Brookwood pitcher Bryon Strickland helped his own cause with a single to help put the Warriors up the rest of the way.
After stealing second, Strickland scored on Jordan Bradshaw’s base hit.
Bradshaw added the last run of the inning when Hamton Worthey connected on a base hit.
Peyton Latmore walked and scored the fifth run of the game on Heritage School's last error of the game.
The Hawks appeared to have new life in the contest when they scored their final two runs of the game in the top of the fifth. Smith reached on a base hit and after a sacrifice from McKee moved to second. Rich cut the lead to 5-3 when singled in his third run of the game.
The Hawks’ centerfielder scored the last run of the game for the Hawks with some heads up base running when he stole second and third after Brookwood dropped the ball twice.
Brad Macke cut the Brookwood lead to 5-4 when he drove Rich in on a ground out.
Brookwood added its final two runs of the game in the fifth and sixth.
Deese’s homer in the fifth and Strickland’s double in the fifth to score Latmore made it 7-4.
“I am just glad some of our younger guys got a taste of what the playoffs are all about,” Huffstickler said. "Hopefully, we will be able to come back and build on this next year.”