BROOKVILLE — Two key innings, the first and seventh, gave the Senators the edge they needed to claim a 5-1 Game 3 victory Monday at McKinley Field. Brookville played top-notch defense in innings two through six but could never generate any scoring momentum to match Sykesville’s effort.
“We played better than pretty good; (Brookville) dropped that one fly ball and that ball that slid past the first baseman; those two things broke our bats, and we never mended them after that,” said Bob McCullough, Brookville Grays manager.
Sykesville took to bat to open the contest. Brandon Bell, who pitched a complete game, struck out Ryan Gordon to open the contest. Bell then forced Jason Roman to ground out to first for the second out. Big-time slugger Adam Fox stepped up to the plate next. Bell got him to fly the ball out to center field, and the inning looked as if it was going to end right before the ball bounced off of center fielder Zac Roller’s glove and landed in play, allowing Fox to reach second.
League MVP Kasey Clinton stepped up to the plate next. Bell knew better than to pitch to him and intentionally walked him, as he thought he would have an easier time forcing No. 5 batter Jonathon Weber into the third out. Weber did not appreciate that gesture, and he showed it. He slugged a two-RBI double down the right field line for his team’s first two runs. Weber was left stranded as the next batter, Tom Hibbert, struck out for out number three.
Brookville’s first at-bat did not go well. Its three opening sluggers went down in order to close the inning.
The Grays struggled with opposing pitcher Jacob Knarr all night. He pitched 6-2/3 innings, throwing six strikeouts, two walks and allowing just one run on four hits.
Jesse Cogan started off the second inning with a single to center field. After that, Brookville returned to its unrelenting defense that has allowed it to go this far in the playoffs. Jordan Weinzeral was the next batter and he grounded a shot to second that was turned into a double play. Jude Lander then provided the third out when was forced out 4-3.
Brookville’s second-inning at-bat did not go any better. Kent Shick went to the plate first. He held patient until he faced a full count. Knarr then delivered strike number three to send him back to the dugout. After that, Mike Sedor was forced out 4-3.
Eric Painter then stepped up to the plate with two outs. He was unable to summon his heroics from the night before — when he hit a home run — and he went down on three pitches.
The Grays were able to contain the Senators again in the third. After Gordon recorded the first out, Roman made it to first with his single to center field.
Soon after, Fox grounded to first baseman Painter for the second out. Bell still wasn’t going to let Clinton do any damage, so he intentionally walked him again. Clinton and Roman never crossed home plate, as Weber was put out 6-3 for the third out.
Neither squad was able to light up the scoreboard again until the sixth inning.
The game was still 2-0 Sykesville when Clinton approached home plate to open the sixth. Bell decided he would take Clinton on this time. Bell would live to regret that decision, as they battled to a full count until Clinton blasted a homer over the left field wall to give the Senators a 3-0 lead.
“We tried to set the stage by keeping Clinton off the bases and when we finally pitched to him, I think he put it over towards the yellow building (complex far in the distance) out there,” said McCullough. “Any time you let him hit, you take that chance in your hand and you know that’s going to happen, so you can’t do that,” he said.
Brookville was able to score its only run in the sixth. Rick Shaffer was walked then Danny Walters smacked a single to right field to put his teammate in scoring position at third.
Cole Cook brought Shaffer home with his sac-fly to left field. Shick and Sedor then provided outs two and three, respectively, to end the inning.
The Senators extended their lead to 5-1 off the bats of Gordon, Fox and Weber in the seventh.
The Grays did their best to fight back in the seventh, but they ended the game with Jed Fiscus and Roller left on base to fight another day as Adam Fox stepped in as closing pitcher to force Walters into a ground out to end the game.
The Senators took Game 3 with a 5-1 victory that gives them a 2-1 series lead.