Bulldogs blow out Lisbon, 10-0, to earn spot in State Final
Brocton, have mercy!
BINGHAMTON — The Brocton Bulldogs said that they wanted to make their second straight trip to the State Final Four one for the history books.
Friday was certainly that, and now the Bulldogs will play for the first baseball State title in school history today.
Brocton defeated Lisbon of Section X, 10-0, by way of the mercy rule in six innings in a NY State Class D baseball semifinal game, Friday, at Conlon Field in Binghamton.
“It feels awesome. It feels great to come out here and do what we do best, entertaining everyone here,” said Brocton senior Jordan Krystofiak. “Brocton is such a wonderful community. Everyone came all the way out here from Brocton just to watch us play a baseball game. I’m getting choked up just talking about it.”
Brocton coach Rob Fetterick echoed Krystofiak’s appreciation of the community of Brocton and its support of the first State championship game representative in school history. He also praised his special group of baseball players that have captured the hearts of the community in back-to-back years.
“I couldn’t ask for a better group of kids. These kids are phenomenal,” said Fetterick. “These kids want it. They are hard-working and dedicated. My feelings are all for them and this community.”
Fighting back tears, Fetterick said, “We don’t have a lot down there in Brocton. This is something they can all hang their hats on for the next 30, 50, 60 years. I’m just happy to be a part of it.”
Brocton (11-7) went with its ace on Friday, Ronald “Bubba” Brown, with the focus solely on advancing to the title game. Through three innings, Brown could not have been any better. The first trip through the Lisbon (13-4) batting order, Brown was perfect, retiring seven of the nine batters he faced on strikeouts.
Brocton’s offense got on the board with two outs in the bottom of the third inning, starting once Krystofiak reached base on a walk. Gabe Morello followed with a single down the first base line that put Krystofiak in motion. After mentioning a desire to be aggressive all week long leading into the game, Fetterick did not hesitate to push the envelope, as he sent Krystofiak home on the single to right field. The throw was slightly off-line, which allowed Krystofiak to slide in ahead of the tag for the first run of the game.
“As soon as (Morello) hit that, I knew it was going to drop, so I was just looking at my coach and he told me to keep going. So I just put the second gear on and I just kept going,” said Krystofiak.
“I knew I had to do something for him,” said Fetterick of Krystofiak. “I had to jump his confidence, and I knew if he scored, the sky is the limit. Now, he’s ready to go. He’s believing in himself. … He’s back.”
In the top of the fourth inning, Lisbon finally got its first baserunner of the game, on a two-out single and a stolen base to advance to scoring position, but Brown ended the threat and preserved the lead. Lisbon threatened again in the top of the fifth inning with a pair of hits to lead off the frame, but once again, Brocton avoided any harm.
“He’s awesome,” said Fetterick of Brown. “My gameplan wasn’t to go with Bubba the whole way, but (with the score what it was) I didn’t have any other choice,” said Fetterick. Brown exceeded the pitch count for just one night’s rest, making him ineligible to pitch in today’s championship game.
In the bottom fifth, the Bulldogs broke the game wide open. After a one-out single by Darien Booker, Fetterick called for a push bunt from Krystofiak down the first base line. Krystofiak executed the bunt perfectly, as not only did he reach base safely for a hit, but Booker advanced to third base on the throw. Morello followed in the next at-bat with an RBI ground ball and reached on an error for the second run of the game, then Derrick Burns walked to load the bases, still with just one out and a 2-0 lead.
“We knew we were on him,” said Fetterick of his team against Lisbon’s pitcher. “Once again, my No. 9 batter Darien Booker came through again and put the ball in play. Jordan has an amazing push bunt up the line and you could just see the dugout come alive. You just knew something great was going to happen.”
Riley Rivera, one of Brocton’s five seniors, doubled the Brocton lead with a two-run single. Brown helped his own cause with an RBI single of his own in the next at-bat, then Michael Steward followed with an RBI single to mark the third straight hit for a Brocton run. Nick Putcher, who led off the inning, finished off the scoring in the frame with a two-run single to extend Brocton’s lead to 8-0. In all, the Bulldogs had 11 batters come to the plate in the bottom of the fifth inning and scored seven runs on six hits in the frame.
“Same thing as the last game, I told the boys one run isn’t going to be enough,” said Brown. “I don’t know what it is, but once we see the pitcher for a few innings, we jump on them.”
Brown came back to the mound in the top of the sixth inning and induced a ground ball to second base, where Burns made a charging play and threw on to first to get the Lisbon runner by a step. Brown struck out the next two batters, his 10th and 11th strikeouts of the game, to end the top of the sixth inning.
He didn’t know it then, but that was the last time Brown would see the mound in a high school contest. The Bulldogs added a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth inning, after a leadoff double by Krystofiak and walks to Burns and Rivera led to a bases-loaded at-bat for Brown. He delivered with a two-run single to make the score 10-0. To the surprise of the Brocton players and coaches, the umpires signaled the end of the game, as the 10-run advantage put the mercy rule in effect. With it, the Bulldogs solidified their spot in the State title game for the first time, in the most dominant fashion possible.
“We’re nothing to mess with,” said Krystofiak after the blowout victory.
“It feels amazing. Especially after falling short last year, it feels good to come back and win,” said Brown. “The community is really supportive, always cheering me on. I wanted to go out and do my best for my community.”
Brown finished with six innings pitched in the win, with 11 strikeouts, no walks issued and just three hits allowed.
“Congratulations to my team,” said Brown. “I’m so proud of them. We work hard at practice, even in the gym, we’re always working hard. I could not thank them enough.”
Brocton now plays Whitehall, of Section II, today at 1 p.m., at Union-Endicott High School, in Binghamton. Whitehall advanced to the title game after a 5-0 win over South Kortright, of Section IV, on Friday. A win would bring the first NY State baseball title in program history home to Brocton. “Regardless of what happens (today) I’m proud to be their coach,” said Fetterick. “This is an amazing feeling.”