WELLSBURG - For the second night in a row, the Brooke baseball team came from behind to win. Thursday night, it was a 6-4 victory over Magnolia that followed Wednesday's 15-11 win over Big Red. It put the Bruins record at 5-6.
The Blue Eagles (5-5) scored three runs in the first two innings, but Brooke's Brent Pellen settled down and pitched three scoreless innings for the win before giving way to Steven Jeffries, who hurled the final two frames.
Pellen struck out two and issued no free passes.
Jeffries gave up a run in the top of the seventh inning and had the winning run at the plate with two outs when senior all-state catcher, Nick Breen, dug a low pitch out of the dirt and threw from his knees to nail a Blue Eagle runner at third base for the final out of the game.
"I have a good group of kids," said Brooke coach, Ron Ujcich, following the game. "They have talent and the ability to play good defense. As long as we get good pitching and do the small things, we can continue to win."
Some of the little things that Ujcich was pleased with were a couple of well placed bunts and the ability to make routine plays on defense.
"By making the plays that need to be made, we put the pressure on Magnolia to make mistakes," Ujcich explained "Then we got some hits when we needed them. You can have 20 hits, but if you don't get them when runners are in scoring position, they don't help you much.
"Tonight we got runners on and forced them into pressure situations and we capitalized on their mistakes."
It didn't look too good for the Bruins in the first inning when Ryan Walton and Chandler Sapp got back-to-back singles on the first two pitches offered up by Pellen.
Then, shortstop Kyle Elliott hit a hot shot right at Brooke shortstop, Heath Hildreth, who snagged the liner, but was unable to catch Walton or Sapp off their bases.
Magnolia's Zac Wilhoit followed with a line double down the left field line that scored Walton with Sapp pulling up at third. Pellen struck out the next batter and got opposing pitcher, Tannor Hanna, to bounce out to shortstop.
"We were one hit away from scoring five runs in the first inning," said veteran Magnolia coach, Dave Cisar. "It was a tough loss, but you have to give Brooke a lot of credit. They could have folded early, but they battled back. We just had a couple of errors and too many lead off walks. This is the first time we have lost three games in a row since 2004."
Cisar reiterated what Ujcich said that in high school baseball you have to make the routine plays to win.
"We had a couple of routine plays that we didn't make," Cisar continued. "But this is just April 5 and the sectional tournament is six weeks away. We're a young team and we played like we are young."
Cisar's crew came back with two more runs in the top of the second inning when Grant Cain led off with a single through the hole at third base. He was erased at second when Jason Keller bounced to third base and Pellen struck out Drew Keller.
He induced Walton to hit a slow roller to third where Aaron Walker, attempting a hurried throw, threw the ball past first base and down the right field line. Keller scored on the play and Walton waltzed home when Sapp drilled a triple into the left-center field gap.
Brooke bounced back in the bottom of the third when Austin Schambach and Russell Schwertfeger got the first two hits off of Hanna. Heath Hildreth followed with one of those timely hits that Ujcich was pleased with stroking a slicing double just inside the right field foul line to drive Schamback and Schwertfeger home.
The Bruins scored another run in the fourth without the benefit of a hit when Jeffries led off with a walk, was sacrificed to second with a bunt by Pellen. Hanna threw a wild pitch with the catcher picking up the ball and attempting to get Jeffries at third. His throw got away and Jeffries scored to tie the game.
Brooke put the game away with three more runs in the bottom of the fifth. Schwertfeger led off with a walk and stole second. One out later, Nick Breen drove him home with a single.
Breen stole second and raced home on a Paul DiPasquale double down the left field line. Alec Buchmelter hit into what appeared to be a fielder's choice, but Magnolia was unable to get a scrambling DiPasquale, who got back to second base safely.
Back-to-back walks moved DiPasquale to third and then home to cap the Brooke scoring.
Magnolia's Walton and Sapp finished with two hits apiece and Sapp had a triple and drove in three of the Blue Eagle runs.
Schwertfeger, Hildreth, Breen, DiPasquale and Schambach had the Brooke hits. Hildreth and DiPasquale each doubled and Hildreth had two RBIs.
The Bruins travel Saturday to play a doubleheader at Wheeling Central. The Blue Eagles wait until next Tuesday to play again. They will entertain River.
Brooke 6, Magnolia 4
Magnolia 120 000 1 - 4 4 0
Brooke 002 130 0 - 6 5 2
Magnolia (5-5): Hanna (LP, 5K, 4BB); Sapp (5th, 2K, 2BB) and Cain. Walton 2S, 2R; Sapp S, T, 3RBI; Wilhoit D, RBI; Cain S; J. Keller 2R.
Brooke (5-6): Pellen (WP, 2K, 0BB); Jeffries (1K, 2BB) and Breen. Schwertfeger S, 2R; Hildreth D, 2RBI; Breen S, R; DiPasquale D, R, RBI; Schambach S, R.