Brocton repeats as champions
Bulldogs claim another Section VI, Class D baseball title with 1-0 win
JAMESTOWN — In most cases, scoring one run on five hits in a championship baseball game will not end well for a title game participant. On Saturday, however, one run proved to be just enough offense, as a flawless defensive game and a stellar pitching performance led Brocton to a second straight Sectional crown.
The Brocton Bulldogs successfully defended their Sectional title with a 1-0 victory over Clymer/Sherman, Saturday afternoon, at Russell E. Diethrick Jr. Park in the Section VI, Class D championship baseball game in Jamestown.
“This means everything to me, it really does,” said Brocton third baseman Michael Steward, who made a key defensive play in the seventh inning of Saturday’s game. “I love the game, I love my teammates. It’s great to be here, great to get this.”
Brocton reached the title game thanks to a complete game shutout by Jordan Krystofiak over North Collins on Thursday, which allowed the Bulldogs the opportunity to save All-State pitcher Ronald “Bubba” Brown for the title game. The Brocton ace did not disappoint, as he pitched a complete game, two-hit shutout of Clymer/Sherman with nine strikeouts for the win.
As impressive as Brown was, Saturday his team’s defense behind him was as good as its ever been.
“We all know Bubba is our ace, he’s going to go out there and he’s going to throw strikes,” said Brocton coach Rob Fetterick. “Bubba also knows he’s got a heck of a defense behind him. I’ve got kids diving face first into fences — the heart and the passion of these kids is unbelievable.”
“I’m just glad we got the win. My teammates had my back and that’s all I care about. I’ll throw strikes and they’ll make the plays,” said Brown. “Championship game, I knew my boys were going to give it 110 percent. We want this more than any team.”
After a 1-2-3 inning on both sides in the first inning, Brocton’s defense took its first opportunity to shine in the top of the second frame. With two outs and a runner on base after a walk, Clymer/Sherman’s Trent Burchanowski hit a foul ball down the first base line. Brocton senior first baseman Darien Booker tracked the ball down and crashed into the fence to record the out and end the top half of the second inning.
Brocton had a chance to jump ahead in the bottom half of the second inning, but a pair of runners were left stranded on second and third base to end the frame.
Each pitcher — Brown and Clymer/Sherman’s Lucas Willink — recorded all three outs of the third inning on strikeouts, with only a walk issued to Clymer/Sherman’s Mike Beatman — who then stole second base — as a sign of offense for either team. Willink broke through with Clymer/Sherman’s first hit of the game with two outs in the top of the fourth inning, but he was left stranded after another strikeout by Brown.
“I thought we played well,” said Clymer/Sherman coach Bob Newton. “If we put some of those line drives or fly balls on the ground or in a gap, it’s a totally different ballgame.”
Brocton was finally able to strike in the bottom of the fourth inning. After a leadoff single by Derrick Burns followed by a stolen base immediately afterward, Brocton’s Riley Rivera came through with an RBI single to right field to score Burns from second base. After Rivera’s hit — one of two on the day for him — Brocton had the game’s first lead after four innings of play, and needed just nine more outs to repeat as Sectional champs.
“He’s been hot all year,” said Fetterick of Rivera. “He and Derrick (Burns) both, they’re two clutch kids. When I need a hit and we need runs, I’m happy to see when they come to the plate.”
Clymer/Sherman threatened in the top of the fifth inning, with a leadoff single by Burchanowski. He advanced to third base with one out on a sacrifice bunt and a passed ball, but a strikeout by Brown and a bang-bang play at first base for the third out of the inning ended the top of the fifth without a Clymer/Sherman run. Brocton retired Clymer/Sherman in the top of the sixth inning in order, while the Bulldogs left runners stranded on second and third in the bottom of the sixth inning.
“We all know, championship games, you’re going to bring the nerves,” said Fetterick. “I’ve got a good core of seniors, but a lot of these kids, this is really their first time being in a big game like this. Hats off to them, these kids give 110 percent every single day. I can’t ask more of them.”
Just three outs away from another banner for the Bulldogs, Clymer/Sherman had the go-ahead run on base after a leadoff walk. The next batter, Matthew White, squared to bunt in an attempt to advance the runner into scoring position. White connected with the ball, but instead popped the ball up to third base. Brocton’s Steward came crashing in from third base, but the ball appeared as if it would get over his head after he over-ran it. Steward contorted his body and leaped backward to make the catch, then fired to first base to double off the runner.
“The pitch before that, he squared up and fouled it off. I knew it was coming again,” said Steward. “I got a little ahead of myself, but I’m glad I’m tall. The extension worked in my favor. … Oh man, I was full of excitement.”
“I don’t think you can even describe a play like that. That was just unbelievable,” said Fetterick. “For a kid whose confidence isn’t always the strongest, for him to make that play, get up and make a strong throw to first base for a double play, I can’t be more proud of him or more happy for him.”
After the final stellar play in the field for the Bulldogs set Brocton up for another celebration, Brown finished the game in style with his ninth strikeout of the contest to seal the victory.
Brown finished with seven shutout innings, only two hits allowed, four walks and nine strikeouts.
“It’s Bubba. This kid’s been doing it since he was a sophomore. He’s such a focused kid,” said Fetterick.
Willink earned the loss, despite pitching a complete game and holding the defending Sectional champs to just one run on five hits. Willink issued just one walk and struck out five.
“Lucas (Willink) had a great game on the mound. Hats off to Clymer/Sherman,” said Fetterick. “They’re a great team and we had three great games with them this year.”
“Our kids weren’t afraid. We weren’t thinking oh geez, we’re playing Brocton — we’re thinking we’re going to win,” said Newton. “From the second day of practice, I told the kids if we’re not playing for a Sectional championship, it’s going to be a disappointing season, just because there are so many athletes here.”
Brocton now advances to the Far West Regional game next weekend, scheduled for Saturday at noon in Batavia.
“We’ve been there before, I’m sure a lot of other teams haven’t,” said Brown. “We might face a team that’s inexperienced there, so I’d say we have the advantage. We’ve just got to play how we normally do and we should be fine. … It means the world. It’s great to be back on top again.”