BRUSHTON – The previous two regular season baseball matchups between No. 2 Brushton-Moira and No. 3 Norwood-Norfolk were blowouts, with each enjoying one.
The Section 10 Class C semifinal round on Wednesday was anything but.
Five lead changes, seven innings of action and a trip to the title game on the line. Both teams delivered, though the Flyers came out on top, 10-8.
“It was nice actually having some competition,” senior second baseman Gavin Allen said. “That 10-game streak, that was crazy, but it was nice to actually be able to play a game against a good team.”
Allen put the Panthers (10-2) in position for a potential walk-off victory in the bottom of the sixth inning. With Wayne Palmer on third and two outs, Allen stared down Norwood-Norfolk (10-4) relief pitcher Michael Richards (six strikeouts, one walk).
A foul ball descended to a first baseman glove on the right – dropped.
Another foul flew out to the third baseman and met his glove – dropped.
Allen made the most of the chances given to him and smacked an RBI single to tie the game 8-8 before the Flyers retired the sides. He also went 3-for-3 at the plate.
“I was just focused on winning the game. The whole game, I was on my toes,” Allen said. “I wanted the game so bad. I tried my hardest today than I have all season.”
Bot 4 | Gavin Allen loads the bases with a single, Kenneth Supernault drives in a runner on the following bat.Brushton 7, Norwood 2 pic.twitter.com/jLc9xg4KuA— Evan Wheaton (@EvanWheaton) June 9, 2021
Robert Voss slapped a two RBI double to pull ahead two runs in the top of the seventh to go the distance, but his explosiveness at bat was consistent the moment he was relieved from pitching duties.
First, he drove in a two-run home run to cut Norwood-Norfolk’s deficit 7-4 in the top of the fifth. From there, he hit a single run home run in the top of the sixth to break a 7-7 tie.
Voss pitched four innings, striking out five batters, allowing nine hits and walking seven.
“It wasn’t a very strong defensive game again, we made some mistakes and we can’t afford to make mistakes against a team like Norwood, so it came back and bit us,” Brushton-Moira coach Jody Johnston said.
A two RBI double from Thomas Hopsicker and an RBI for Nicholas Tebo added to the six consecutive runs across the fifth and sixth innings for the Flyers.
It came down to errors in the field, a couple broken plays and strong batting from Norwood-Norfolk.
“When we make errors, it brings the whole team down, and we can’t do that,” Palmer said. “We just have to pick up our heads after an error is made and forget about it. It’s done. After the error is made, it’s done. Forget about it (and) move on.”
Brushton-Moira had a surge of its own in the third inning. Dawson White hit a triple to bring home James Durant, and he and Justin Kennedy each added a run as well. With the bases loaded, the Panthers took back-to-back walks to cap off a frame worth five runs.
End 3 | Panthers took back-to-back walks while the bases were loaded.Brushton 6, Norwood 2 pic.twitter.com/lpaqONaNcx— Evan Wheaton (@EvanWheaton) June 9, 2021
This spark for the Panthers came after initially starting down 2-0 following a scoreless first inning. Once Lucas Bushey ran home on a wild pitch to cut the first deficit in half, it was off to the races.
“They became a little more aggressive and a little better in the strike zone as far as what they were swinging at,” Johnston said of the early runs. “And, we ran the bases well. We had a couple innings stretch where we did everything absolutely perfect offensively.”
Mid 3 | Impeccable diving catch by Bushey at first to strand a runner on third. Panthers make it out of the inning, down 2-1. pic.twitter.com/Am6zHKfCvR— Evan Wheaton (@EvanWheaton) June 9, 2021
Kennedy struck out eight Flyers batters and allowed 10 hits before White relieved him midway through the top of the seventh. Kennedy, White and Palmer all went 2-for-3 at the plate.
“We had a really good team this year. Coach especially, Jody is one of the best coaches I’ve ever had,” Palmer said. “Everybody has a great attitude and never says anything bad about the team. That’s what I’ll remember most.”
Said Johnston: “The guys did a really good job of representing Brushton and their community very well. That’s why I came here to Brushton, because it’s such a close knit community. The players are great, the parents are great, the school is great. One of those things where I’m never disappointed at Brushton, it’s just a nice community with a bunch of great kids here.”
Johnston also noted he will remember the resiliency of a baseball team that won 10 consecutive games in the middle of a pandemic – masked up, and finished the season after having one taken the year prior.
“It was a good season in the sense that we didn’t reach the team goals that we had, but we got a full season in and the guys got to play,” Johnston said. “We gave our seniors 12 good baseball games, so I’m okay with that.
“I’m not okay with losing, I never lose very well, no one should, but it’s okay. These guys – I’m happy we were able to complete the season.”