BROOKVILLE — A leadoff single to left field in the bottom of the fifth inning by Nathan Waggoner followed by a sacrifice bunt by Coltin Lawson and a two-out, RBI single to shallow right field by Jace Wood gave Brookville the only run of the game as the Blue Devils edged West Liberty-Salem 1-0 Wednesday in the Division III, Southwest III sectional final.
With the victory Brookville, the No. 4 seed, improved to 16-11 overall. West Liberty-Salem fell to 12-9 and was eliminated from postseason play.
The Blue Devils advance to the district final Monday to face No. 3 seed Arcanum at Arcanum. The Trojans are 20-5 overall and have won eight of their last nine games.
“They gave us some opportunities early with some walks and putting us in a favorable position, but we just couldn’t cash in and get the big hit,” said Brookville coach Tyler Eaton. “We took too many borderline strikes later in counts that led to some looking strikeouts. We gotta be more aggressive, especially on two-strike counts.”
Brookville’s infield came up with several clutch plays to keep West Liberty-Salem off the scoreboard.
First baseman Sam Fullenkamp tagged out Jayden Temple during a rundown between first and second base in the top of the first inning.
Third baseman Hunter Gray and Fullenkamp completed a 5-3-5 double play in the top of the fifth inning to thwart a Tigers’ scoring threat.
In the top of the sixth inning Austin Olejniczak hit a ground ball to Wood at shortstop. Wood’s throw to first baseman Sam Fullenkamp was high but caromed off the dugout and back into the field of play.
Olejniczak rounded first thinking he could reach second on the wild throw. Fullenkamp alertly scooped the ball up off the carom and tagged Olejniczak out.
In the top of the seventh Wood completed a double play to end the game. Sam Lauck drew a leadoff walk for the Tigers with James Powell coming in as the pinch runner. Powell reached second on a sacrifice bunt by Jeremiah Johnson.
Isaac Sertell singled to center with Powell advancing to third. Isaiah Reames hit a ground ball that Wood fielded, stepped on second to force out Sertell and threw to Fullenkamp at first for the final out.
Starting pitcher Josh Cooper got off to a rocky start issuing three walks and a single in the first inning. Fullenkamp tagged out Temple on a rundown and Cooper settled down and got the fifth batter to pop out to second and struck out the last batter to end the bases loaded threat.
Cooper pitched five innings, limited the Tigers to a pair of hits, issued three walks and struck out four. Lane Willoughby pitched one and a third innings giving up three hits and one walk. Nathan Waggoner pitched the final two-thirds of an inning and got Reames to hit into the game ending double play.
“Our kids stayed focused and Jace Wood got a big base hit to get us a run and we were able to make just enough plays to seal that thing up,” Eaton said. “That has been the story of the last stretch of this season. A lot these games the other team is making just enough plays, and today we made just enough plays.”
Reach Ron Nunnari at [email protected].