Brandeis’ early struggles in District 28-6A baseball are a thing of the past.
After sputtering through a 2-3 beginning, the Broncos (18-9, 8-3) are riding a five-game winning streak with the two recent triumphs kicked off the second round on a positive note by moving into a second-place tie with O’Connor.
The Broncos started their week by avenging an opening 8-5 loss to Stevens with a 5-3 victory on Oscar Cardenas’ three-run homer in the sixth inning. The Broncos then rolled to a 16-2 win over Marshall.
“We had a rough start, but we’re playing much better,” Brandeis coach Eric Jupe said. “We’re hitting better. We’re getting confidence. The kids are fighting, and they never want to give up. We’re putting ourselves in a good position to win.
“Our win over Stevens was big. It speaks volumes for these kids. They want to keep battling. They have big goals in mind.”
Brandeis was in cruise control against Marshall, thanks largely to a 10-run second inning. The Broncos took advantage of eight walks and relied on a balanced hitting attack led by Jalin Flores (2 for 4, 3 RBIs), Sam Olmeda (1 for 2, 2 RBIs), Oscar Cardenas (2 for 2) and Aric Vasquez (3 for 4, 2 RBIs).
The Broncos took a 1-0 lead in the third with Olmeda’s double, but Stevens (14-7, 7-4) came back with two in the fifth to gain advantage.
Matthew Flores delivered a run-scoring single and came home with the go-ahead run on a groundout following two walks.
Brandeis tied the score in the bottom of the frame on Flores’ single.
Once again, the Broncos found themselves down by a run after Stevens moved back in front with Gabriel Casanova’s two-out RBI single.
Brandeis made another comeback. This time it was for keeps.
With one out in the sixth James Cardenas and Ty Fontenot singled before Oscar Cardenas launched his three-run blast over the left-field fence.
“We never stop,” Oscar Cardenas said. “We’re going to keep going until the last out. We were confident we could come back. When I came up, I was wanting to hang in and get the runners home.
“I wasn’t expecting a home run. When I hit it, I thought it was going out. It felt great.”
Brandeis hopes to continue its winning ways the rest of the way. After all, the playoff spots are still up for grabs and the Broncos don’t want to be left out.
“We’re showing more with our bats,” Oscar Cardenas said. “Winning these big games is helping us a lot.
While Brandeis is making a turnaround, 28-6A leader Brennan (17-4, 11-0) remains steady.
The Bears had a perfect run through the first half and started the second round with a 3-1 squeaker over Warren and a 10-0 zapping of Jay.
Before Warren (5-17, 4-7) helped Brennan’s situation with a 5-4 win over O’Connor, the Bears needed some clutch work to claim a 3-1 win over the Warriors.
Esteban Gonzalez shined on the mound by allowing two hits and striking out five through 6 1/3 innings before Michael Cuevas came on the final two outs.
Scoring runs, however, proved to be a chore against Warren’s Aidan Mow.
The Warriors used a Brennan error for a 1-0 lead in the first.
Brennan overcame the deficit with two runs in the sixth when Jimmy Valle followed Xavior Salazar and Jared Linderman’s singles with a two-run double.
The Bears tacked on another run in the seventh when Gonzalez slashed an RBI single following an error.
Brennan was more dominant in its six-inning win over Jay.
In addition to making the most of five errors, the Bears collected 10 hits. Isaiah Gonzalez (2 for 4, 1 RBI), Jalen Thomas (2 for 4) and Anthony Valley (1 for 3, 2 RBIs) had productive days.
Cuevas silenced Jay’s bats by allowing three hits and striking out eight through five innings before Isaiah Gonzalez fanned two in the sixth.
O’Connor, which ended the first half of 28-6A with losses to Brennan and Stevens, started its week with a 12-1 crunching of Holmes by using Cade Collenback’s four RBIs and an eight-run fifth to breeze to victory.
Just when it seemed a turnaround was in the making, Warren got in the way.
The Warriors broke a 2-2 tie with a three-run homer from Mow in the fifth inning.
That 5-2 cushion was looking safe until O’Connor came to life during its final at-bat in the seventh.
Pinch-hitter Jake Hermesch began the inning with a single. A walk followed one out later and then things became extremely tense.
With two outs, Collenback and Kevin Potts lined run-scoring singles to bring O’Connor within a run. With the tying on third. Warren pitcher Carlos Cuevas saved the Warriors’ victory with a strikeout.
Stevens (14-7, 7-4) and Clark (14-6, 7-4) are keeping their playoffs alive.
Sitting in a fourth-place tie, Stevens recovered from its loss to Brandeis with a 5-1 win over Holmes while Clark earned an 8-5 victory over Jay, before outslugging Taft, 16-9.
Clark shot to a 12-1 lead over Taft in the first two innings before the Raiders made a comeback attempt.
The Cougars hammered out 16 hits and went deep with Daniel Burke’s three-run homer and a solo shot from Portillo.