BROWNSTOWN — Thursday night’s home opener was exactly the reason why Brownstown Central baseball head coach Duane Higgs made the move to take over the program one year ago.
Now in his second season, Higgs saw his team erase a 5-1 deficit in the bottom of the seventh inning to then go on and win the game in extra innings 6-5.
“This was the best decision of my teaching and coaching career because Brownstown wins,” Higgs said. “These kids are winners, and that’s why I came here because we win.”
For awhile, it looked like Brownstown wasn’t going to win.
South Decatur took a 2-0 lead in the first inning, and then added one run in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings to take a 5-1 lead.
Brownstown’s lone run came in the sixth when Pierson Wheeler hit a sacrifice fly to center field to score Trent Lowery.
In the seventh inning, Carson Darlage got on base with a walk, and then Lowery doubled. Ethan Fultz hit a sacrifice fly to score Darlage, and then Jaxson Johnson got on base with a walk as well.
It was Wheeler again who stepped up to the plate and hit an RBI double to score Lowery, and then Grayson Cassidy got an infield hit that scored both Johnson and Wheeler to tie the game up.
That sent the game to extras, and in the bottom of the eighth, the Braves were in a sticky situation with the bases loaded and no outs.
But Brownstown was able to take advantage of a baserunning mistake by South Decatur to get out of the inning unscathed.
In the bottom of the eighth, Darlage drew his second walk of the game, and then stole second base. That allowed Lowery to step up to the plate and deliver the walk-off base hit.
“Trent is a ball player, and our older guys stayed tough and did what they should’ve,” Higgs said. “We stayed tough and we battled.”
Lowery also got the start on the mound for the Braves, and he pitched four innings, striking out 10 batters and only allowing one earned run.
“Trent did what he does on the hill. Obviously, we didn’t help him out with some mental mistakes that we made,” Higgs said.
Fultz and Ethan Garland then both pitched two innings apiece.
Garland and Lowery each had two hits for Brownstown, and Wheeler led the way with two RBI.
Chick Tiemeyer, Darlage, Lowery, Fultz, Johnson and Lane Pendleton were all able to draw walks for the Braves, as well, and get on base at key times.
The Braves (1-0) will play two games at Bloomington South on Saturday against the Panthers first and then against Edgewood before playing at Seymour on Monday.
“From here, it’s just building,” Higgs said. “It’s a process. It’s a grind. Obviously, we’re very happy we got out of here with a win, but it’s about getting better every day.”