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Brashears comes to senses to knock Saints senseless

March 31, 2006|by BOB PARASILITI

After two pitches, Kevin Brashears found himself in a couple of unflattering categories.

Pitch One: Dazed.

Pitch Two: Confused.

But on the third offering, St. Maria Goretti's catcher reclassified himself. With one swing of the bat, it was Pitch Three: Gamebreaker.

Brashears came up empty on the first two offerings from St. James starting pitcher Mike Russ with two outs in the fourth inning. But with two strikes and runners on first and second, Brashears straightened out a Russ curve and laced it down the left-field line for an RBI double to give the Gaels a 2-1 lead Thursday en route to an 8-1 victory over the Saints.

"With two strikes, it was a matter of putting the ball in play," Brashears said. "I wanted to make them make a play."

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But the senior did more than that. With the one swing, he started turning the game Goretti's way.

Russ began to tire in the fourth inning and started to get his pitches up in the strike zone. The freshman got away from his fastball and started leaning on his breaking pitches to get by.

Goretti had fallen behind 1-0 until the fourth, when Alexander Zoretich led off with a single and took second on a wild pitch before scoring on Jonny Widmyer's one-out single to tie the game.

Three batters later, it was Brashears' turn. He watched Russ' first pitch go by for the first strike. The next was a curve that Brashears made an awkward swing at and missed to go down 0-2.

Then came the moment of truth. A second curve came in and Brashears timed it, sending it down the left-field line on a hop over third baseman Colin McWilliams' glove for a double to score pinch runner Brian Cordova with the go-ahead run.

"He didn't throw his curve in the first three innings," Brashears said. "His second pitch was a curve. I timed it and just tried to put the ball in play."

The hit came at a time when the odds started going against the Saints.

"I hated to see (Brashears) come up in that spot," St. James coach Terry Brown said. "We got him out the first two times we faced him, but you're not going to stop him the whole game."

Goretti (2-2) blew the game open with two runs in the fifth and four in the sixth to win comfortably.

Winning pitcher David Plank helped his own cause with a two-run single in the fifth off reliever Cody Belcastro for a 4-1 advantage. The rally started with the help of a sacrifice bunt by Ryan Lipella, Goretti's cleanup hitter.

Zoretich highlighted the sixth with a popup to second that turned into a sacrifice fly and a throwing error which plated two runs.

"Mike (Russ) threw well for them. We were able to put the ball in play, but not enough," Goretti coach Mike Brashears said. "Kevin's hit was big, but Lipella's sacrifice bunt helped us. You don't usually bunt your cleanup hitter, but he did the job for us."

Plank pitched a complete-game victory, allowing one unearned run on four hits while walking one and striking out five.

"Plank pitched well for is in a tough situation," Mike Brashears said. "His dad had a heart attack two days ago and he still came out and played well. He threw 94 pitches today and got a complete game after throwing 94 pitches the other day against Jefferson and only got through the fourth inning."

Russ started the game wildly but settled down after a first-inning visit from Brown. He held Goretti in check into the fourth.

The Saints gave Russ a 1-0 lead in the third when Tucker Smoot reached and advanced on a pair of Gaels errors, took third on a wild pitch and scored on Ben Farquhar's grounder to short.

"Mike said he started to get a little tight," Brown said. "We have a doubleheader in our league on Saturday and we didn't want to use him too much. This is a good bunch of kids. They will bounce back."

Kevin Brashears and Zoretich had two hits each to lead Goretti's eight-hit attack.

"We were able to put the ball in play to get the runs in and get a comfortable margin today," Mike Brashears said.

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