Facing a team that finished as the state runners-up in 2018, Brownstown Central’s baseball team knew it had a tough task Friday night.
To beat Class 3A No. 10 Silver Creek, the Braves needed to put together its best game of the season in the Sectional 30 semifinals at North Harrison.
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Unfortunately for the Braves, an error-plagued start led to a deep hole in the early innings which they couldn’t surmount.
The Dragons (20-6) built a 6-1 lead in the first inning and never looked back, as they downed the Braves 12-1 in five innings last night.
“They are just better than us. They were just more skilled,” Braves coach Brandon Tormoehlen said. “Not necessarily athletically, but just more baseball-skilled. For us to beat a team like that — in a tournament setting — we’re going to have to play a near-flawless game. We didn’t. We just had too many errors and weren’t able to work ahead. They are a really good team, and it was going to take a lot to beat them.”
The Braves (20-8) opened the game with singles by Isaiah Wineinger and Seth Borden. After a strikeout by Dragons sophomore pitcher Holden Groher, Matthew Garland laid down a bunt and Wineinger scurried to home plate. Wineinger avoided the tag as he slid into home, putting the Braves up 1-0.
While the top of the frame was a solid start, the Braves struggled in a big way in the bottom.
Following a leadoff double by Evan Hartstock, back-to-back errors by the Braves led to a pair of Dragons runs. Josh Landers then stepped to the plate and delivered a two-run single to push the lead to 4-1.
Braves senior left-hander Matthew Bell was replaced by senior shortstop Seth Borden after the hit by Landers. The first batter Borden faced, Jack Hawkins, blasted a two-run homer to left field to make it 6-1.
The rough start continued for the Braves in the second inning, as a walk, error, and hit-by pitch loaded the bases. After a sacrifice fly from Groher, the Dragons re-loaded the bases with another walk. An error in center field then lead to two more runs scored by the Dragons, making it 9-1.
Borden was substituted for freshman Levi Stahl on the mound in the middle in the inning, who was able to keep the Dragons from adding any more runs in the second.
In the bottom of the third, a single and two walks loaded the bases again for the Dragons. Tyler Wheeler then stepped to the plate and batted in two with a single before Connor Young’s poke made it 12-1 Dragons.
Stahl was replaced by fellow freshman Ethan Davis in the fourth inning.
The Braves limited the Dragons’ offense the rest of the way, and had a chance to keep the game going in the fifth inning.
In the top of the fifth, the Braves loaded the bases with hits by Garland and Bell and a hit-by-pitch, but weren’t able to capitalize.
The Braves were outhit 9-6 in the run-ruled loss.
Bell, Borden and Garland all graduate from the Braves’ program.
“This group of seniors was great,” Tormoehlen said. “To be honest, coming into the season I was king of worried about our leadership. I kept giving them more responsibility and they kept taking it. I am super proud of them. They have developed in some really great young men. They have helped this program. Four, five, six years down the road I think they will say they helped the program make some great strides.”
Silver Creek will play Providence Monday for the sectional title.