REYNOLDSVILLE – "Before I left Brookville I could see that wind whipping and I could see those leaves turning up. That's a storm brewing and the Grays are coming to Reynoldsville," said Bob McCullough to his players before the game.
That storm proved to be too much for the Sykesville Senators as the Grays thundered their way to a 12-hit 9-6 victory in Reynoldsville Friday night.
"We did a good job getting ready for that game, I had guys hitting this afternoon at the cages at home," said McCullough.
The extra practice seemed to be the winning formula for the Grays as they were able to match the Senators hitting, 12 each, as Sykesville traditionally out-hits Brookville.
After Brookville's sluggish start during its first at bat, the offense came alive.
In the second inning, after Jed Fiscus was forced out for out number one, Cole Cook and Eric Painter smacked back-to-back hits. After that, Kent Shick was drilled by a pitch, a role normally reserved for Fiscus.
With the bases loaded, Dan Buzzard belted the ball to left field to score the first run of the game.
Korry Lindemuth then drove in the second run with his sac-fly to left field. The third out came when Mike Sedor grounded the ball to third for the third out.
Sykesville was kept off the scoreboard for the first three innings, with Jonathon Weber, Jason Roman, and Jordan Weinzerl registering hits but never crossing home plate.
Brookville struggled in the third going down after only three batters went to the plate.
The Grays recovered in the fourth though, with Cole Cook opening with a crank to right field.
Eric Painter batted next and held his ground at the plate while he got hit by a pitch. Shick then advanced both runner with his bunt and also picked up the first out.
Buzzard then tallied his second RBI of the night with his sac-fly to center field. Lindemuth followed Buzzard's example and drove in his second RBI with a shot to center field.
Designated hitter Lindemuth was very productive at the plate, going 3-for-4 with a double, 3 RBIs and a run scored. The third out came when Sedor grounded to shortstop Adam Fox, who trotted to second to force Lindemuth out. Brookville was up 4-zip.
Sykesville was able to cut the lead during its fourth go at the plate. Kasey Clinton opened with a smack to right. After that, Weber continued his finals hitting spree with a two run homer that was just left of the bleachers.
Grays starting pitcher Glenn Stewart did not panic after the home-run as he forced out the next three batters, Tom Hibbert, Jesse Cogan and Weinzerl to end the inning. Brookville was still on top, 4-2.
The Grays "storm" grew stronger in the fifth. Shaffer started things off with a double to center field that he almost turned into a triple but hit the brakes between the second and third bag so he didn't earn the first out.
Walters then brought him across home plate with his blast to right field. At that point, Mike Gray stepped in at the mound to replace starting pitcher Jacob Knarr. Gray walked his first batter, Fiscus, to put two runners on base.
Cook then put the runners in scoring position with his bunt, which also earned the first out.
The bunt proved to be a good idea as Painter brought both home with his crank to right field.
Shick and Buzzard then provided outs two and three, respectively. Brookville had the 7-2 lead after its at bat.
Roman tallied a hit for Sykesville in the fifth but the other three batters couldn't generate any offensive momentum.
Brookville pushed its lead one run further in the sixth. Lindemuth and Sedor opened the inning with back-to-back hits. Shaffer struck out; then Walters loaded the bases when he slugged the ball to left field.
Fiscus scored his team's eighth run with a sac-fly to left field. The Brookville offensive was halted when Cook's shot was grabbed by a diving Weinzerl to force out number three.
Sykesville cut the lead again in the sixth. Back-to-back-to-back hits from Webber, Hibbert, and Cogan gave the Senators another two runs.
Cogan almost scored three runs with his crank to right field that bounced off the fence. By the end of the sixth, Brookville was on top 8-4.
The Grays scored their ninth and final run off the bat of Lindemuth, when he drove pinch-runner Zac Roller home with a double.
Brookville had a 9-4 lead when Sykesville took its final at bat.
Fiscus, who normally plays catcher, stepped in to pitch the final inning. He opened with a strikeout against Roman. After that Fox smacked the ball to right field to reach first. Clinton was the next batter.
He delivered his obligatory monster hit of the night with a homer that nearly cleared the bleachers in right field. Pinch-hitter Dan Waskovich batted after that. Fiscus sent him back to the dug out for his second strike out.
Hibbert approached the plate after with two outs, bottom of the seventh. Fiscus forced him to fly out to right field to end the ball game.
Brookville walked away with a 9-6 victory, tying the series at 3-3. Game 7 of the Federation League Finals championship will be played tonight in Brookville at McKinley Field at 5:30 p.m.