BURTON—Not all heroes wear capes.
Some wear Berkshire baseball uniforms and they showed up in force during the Badgers’ dramatic 3-2 win over visiting Cardinal on Thursday.
Brian Brent hit a walk-off double in the bottom of the seventh inning to score the winning run and to keep alive Berkshire’s hopes of winning the Chagrin Valley Conference Valley Division.
“The old-fashioned give up a home run in the fourth inning and try to get to the bullpen and have some timely hitting in situational baseball and the kid to fall down in center field to score the game-winning run in the bottom of the seventh, that’s a lot of fun,” said Berkshire coach Nick Burzanko. “We finally saw some fight in the guys too, which was nice to see. It was a good win for us.”
Considering his recent at-bats, Brent might have been an unlikely hero in that situation. He was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in a 2-1 win over Cardinal on Wednesday and he stepped to the plate on Thursday in the seventh inning having struck out in all three of his previous at-bats.
But, when Jake Brown reached on an error with no outs in the bottom of the seventh, Burzanko gave his senior a chance to win the game.
“I actually thought about (bunting) because he was struggling and I gave Jake the steal sign a couple of times but he didn’t get a good jump, so he didn’t go,” Burzanko said. “I just trust Brian. He’s a senior and has been in these situations a handful of times. You trust your seniors sometimes and he came through in a big way in a big situation after a rough first six innings of his day with three strikeouts and an error at first base. It was nice for Brian to do that in that situation. That will get a kid out of a slump in a hurry.”
Brent wasn’t the only hero for the Badgers.
After taking a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second when Garrett Bosse walked and scored on an error, Berkshire was forced to play from behind after Brandon Collins hit a two-run homer over the scoreboard in left field to give the Huskies a 2-1 lead in the fourth.
Brown’s two-out single in the bottom half of the inning scored Max Janssen to tie the game at 2-2.
“We give up that home run and we kind of saw ourselves deflate a little bit from a handful of guys but then we got some good senior leadership that picked the guys up and we were able to respond right away and at the bottom of the order too with our eighth and ninth guys getting on base,” Burzanko said. “We got some timely hitting from our best player. Jake hit the ball in the gap and we were able to score and tie it up right away.”
A pair of errors gave the Huskies a scoring opportunity in the top of the fifth, but Brown, who relieved Berkshire starter Jack Jacobs, struck out the next two Cardinal hitters to end the threat.
Blake Jenkins flashed his superhero abilities in the top of the sixth inning when Cardinal’s Justin Shank hit a deep fly ball with a runner on first and two outs.
Jenkins didn’t have to leap a tall building, but he did make a diving, over-the-shoulder catch to keep the Huskies off the scoreboard.
“Blake Jenkins is notorious for always pulling out a play like that from somewhere,” Burzanko said. “I’m sure glad to have him on our team.”
Janssen singled to lead off the Berkshire sixth and Jacobs drew a one-out walk to put runners on first and second.
A looping fly ball behind second base resulted in a double play to end the Berkshire scoring opportunity.
“That’s situational baseball and that’s on me,” Burzanko said. “I like to consider myself the loudest guy in the ballpark and when I saw the ball hit, I didn’t think the second baseman had a chance to get it. I’m a ‘Yes, yes, yes,’ or a ‘No, no, no,’ guy. I gave three loud yeses and both guys started going, so that blame is on me.”
Brown retired the Huskies in order in the top of the seventh and then reached on an error to start the Berkshire seventh.
Brent drove a 2-1 pitch into center field to end the game.
With the win, Berkshire improved to 14-6 overall and 9-1 in league play.
The Badgers now need to sweep 10-0 Kirtland next week to earn a share of the conference title.
“All we’ve been talking about this year is just giving yourself a chance and that’s all we’ve been working for,” Burzanko said. “We worked our butts off and we have that chance now. We’ll see what the guys are made of. We control our own destiny. If we go in and take one, all the pressure is on them. We just have to focus on one game at a time and hopefully, these guys show up and compete their butts off and give themselves a chance to win a CVC championship.”