ALONE AT THE TOP

Brennan takes sole possession of 28-6A lead in baseball

By Pat Turner

Brennan is sitting at the top of District 28-6A with a perfect mark after the first round.

While keeping the record spotless, the Bears (15-4, 9-0) overcame deficits in five of the games, including this past week’s 5-4 win over O’Connor which put the Bears alone at the top.

It’s been an exciting ride for Ben Woodchick, but the first-year coach and his Bears are hoping the fun is just beginning.

“These kids have a bulldog attitude,” Woodchick said. “There’s nothing that keeps them down. For them to be in this moment feels great. Our kids have worked hard to get there. But they know we have the whole second half. There’s still a lot of baseball to play, but we couldn’t be happier.”

Brennan’s outlook is promising at this point. After the win over O’Connor, Brennan’s lead stretched to two games a few days later when the Bears rolled past Holmes, 10-0, and Stevens downed O’Connor (15-5, 7-2), 7-4.

The win over O’Connor showed the Bears’ resilience.

The Panthers stunned Brennan with four runs in the second on a bases-loaded walk and Sammy Castillo’s three-run double.

Even though Brennan was looking at a four-run deficit, the Bears remained optimistic. After all, they had been in those situations before.

 “We’re going to do our best to win,” said Michael Cuevas, who helped the Bears with his bat and relief pitching. “We’ve been able to manufacture runs and take advantage of errors. We keep our energy up whether we’re up or down. That’s what we did again.”

Brennan countered with a run in the bottom of the inning on Xavior Salazar’s RBI double and took the lead with four more in the fourth.

The Bears loaded the bases with two walks and a Salazar single, begore Cuevas responded with a run-scoring single. Jimmy Valle tied things up with a two-run single and a bases-loaded walk brought home the go-ahead run.

That go-ahead run turned out to be the winning run. Starter Esteban Gonzalez settled in after the second-inning struggles and kept the Panthers silent before Cuevas closed out the victory with solid work the final three frames.

“Our team has a lot of heart, especially to come back against a team like O’Connor,” Woodchick said. “We gave ourselves a chance to win. Our pitching got better after the first inning and we played great defense.”

The Bears avoided a comeback situation against Holmes by gaining the upper hand early. Brennan took advantage of nine walks and four errors while getting timely hits from Cuevas (2 for 3) and Anthony Valle (3 for 4).

In addition, Jalen Thomas provided quality pitching, allowing three hits with five strikeouts in the six-inning outing.

Stevens, Brandeis Taft

Although Stevens’ win over O’Connor benefitted Brennan, it was a bigger boost for the Falcons (13-6, 6-3), who sit in a third-place tie with Brandeis (10-9, 6-4).

Stevens shared the top spot with O’Connor and Brennan before encountering a three-game losing streak.

The third loss came earlier this past week when Taft rallied past the Falcons for a 2-1 win.

Stevens pitcher Jacob Arriola threw a three-hitter, but the Falcons were unable to get anything going against Taft, which received a four-hit performance from AJ Deleon.

Stevens took a 1-0 lead in the fourth, before Taft tied the score with Garrett Johnson’s RBI double in the bottom of the frame.

The Raiders pulled ahead in the fifth by using a Stevens error in the outfield and Devin Goins’ sacrifice fly.

Stevens, however, found its bat consistency against O’Connor.

The Falcons grabbed the lead in the third on Christian Rodriguez’s three-run double. Stevens increased the advantage to 5-0 in the fourth on Fabian Bernal’s run-scoring triple and Matthew Flores’ sacrifice fly.

O’Connor came back with two runs in the fifth on RBI singles from Walker Jordan and Jackson Blietz.

Stevens responded with Louis Bonillas’ solo shot in the bottom of the inning, only to see O’Connor pull within 6-4 in the sixth.

The Falcons held on for the victory. Bernal provided insurance with a run-scoring double and reliever Jared Phelps shut down the Panthers in order in the final inning.

Taft (9-8, 5-4) missed an opportunity to move into the third-place tie with Stevens as Brandeis hammered out an 11-7 victory over the Raiders.

Coming off a 10-0 pounding of Jay, Brandeis showed its offensive muscle once again in roaring to an 11-2 lead.

John Michael Ramirez led Brandeis’ attack with a 4 for 4 performance that included four RBIs and a solo home run.

That comfortable cushion became tense in the seventh as Taft put together a five-run burst. The Broncos found a way to end the comeback.

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