Mt. Healthy, Oh.—Josh Brown went 7-for-9 (.778) and shined in centerfield, while pitcher Brian Walker held three teams to a combined thirteen runs, to lead Sentry Fire/LBYC to a first place finish in a USSSA “D” State-National Qualifier on Sunday, June 10th at Kolping Park.
Sentry/LBYC mercy-ruled Benton Metals/JGMMA/Elite 12-2 in their opener, then brushed aside C. W. B. 14-5 before polishing off GFY/Butt Shack Sports Bar 9-6 in their finale.
C. W. B. finished 2nd, GFY 3rd and Benton Metals wound up 4th in the four-team round robin affair.
A berth to the USSSA Great Lakes “D” National Tournament on Labor Day Weekend passed down to C. W. B. since Sentry had previously qualified. C. W. B. had previously qualified for State Tournament play on August 18-19, so a berth was awarded to GFY.
Sentry Fire took home a set of t-shirts and $50 in USSSA travel expense.
Clutch defensive plays, the pitching of Brian Walker, and the all-around play of Josh Brown helped carry Sentry to the title, said manager Kevin Henn.
“We were able to work our way out of big innings,” said Henn. “Our defense came through when other teams would get a couple of runners on base with no outs and we would make the play we needed to get out of the inning.”
Brian Walker’s pitching was also a key, said Henn.
“He does a great job of inducing what’s needed. If we need a fly ball, he can get it. If you need a ground ball to turn a double play he can get it at the right time,” Henn said.
The defensive play of Jeff Ellis and Josh Brown was also instrumental in Sentry’s championship.
“Jeff shut down the back side at 2nd base, and Josh Brown caught everything that was anywhere near him and cut off the alleys,” said Henn.
Brown also paced the offense, turning in a hefty .778 effort for the day.
“He’s been struggling to get it going this year,” said Henn. “This was his breakout tournament. He batted very well for us last year. Hopefully this propels him into his regular hitting stride.”
Other hitting leaders included Clint Brodsky (.625) and Adam Farris (.600).
Sentry/LBYC scored five in the 1st, four in the 2nd and two in the 3rd before Benton Metals could get on the board and went on to mercy-rule Benton 12-2 in five innings in game one. The 1st featured a bases-clearing double by Brandon Lightner. Keith Ruschell’s two-run double was the big blow in the 2nd, and Clint Brodsky doubled in both runs in the 3rd. An rbi single by Joey Ellis closed out the scoring in the 4th after Benton averted a shutout with two runs in the top of the inning.
Jamie Cox, Josh Brown, Angel Barton, Adam Farris, Harold Babb and Ellis shared a dozen hits to lead the winners.
Next Sentry jumped out to an 11-0 lead over eventual runner-up C. W. B. and never looked back en route to a 14-5 rout. Brandon Lightner’s three-run bomb capped off the 1st. Keith Ruschell’s two-run triple highlighted the 2nd. C. W. B. erupted for five runs in the top of the 5th, but pitcher Brian Walker held them at bay in the 6th and 7th to preserve the win. Sentry tacked on a run in the bottom of the 5th on Walker’s sac fly, and another in the 6th on an rbi double by Angel Barton.
Adam Farris, Josh Brown, Lightner and Jeff Ellis combined for eight hits to pace the offense.
GFY/Butt Shack drew first blood with two runs in the bottom of the 1st in the finale, but Sentry quickly offset that with three runs in the top of the 2nd. GFY answered with a run in the home half of the inning, only to have Sentry retake the lead with two in the 3rd on a sac fly by Harold Babb and an rbi single by Brandon Lightner. The lead swelled to 7-3 on a two-run bomb by Babb in the 3rd, then Angel Barton made it an 8-3 game with an rbi single in the 6th. GFY responded with a run in the bottom of the inning, then added two in the 7th to make the final 9-6.
Clint Brodsky and Josh Brown banged out three hits each to power the champions.
Shaking off GFY proved to be the pivotal game of the day for Sentry, said manager Kevin Henn.
“That was the only close game we had,” said Henn. “It seemed like it took them a while to get going, but by the time they played us, they were playing well. Their defense was pretty solid and that’s what kept the game close was their defense. We stayed up on them enough to where they couldn’t get within reach.”
For final standings, please paste the following url into your browser: http://www.usssa.com/sports/Tournament3.asp?TournamentID=872542