Brookville ace Brennan Abbott needed just 11 pitches to retire the side in the first inning Tuesday night.
At his home stadium as his third-seeded Bees took on No. 7 seed Fort Defiance in the Region 3C semifinals, Abbott asserted his dominance from the first pitch.
Evan Sutton stared at Abbott’s initial delivery — a strike right down the middle — to get his bearings, but after standing in for just two more pitches, he became Abbott’s first victim.
The list of Fort Defiance batters who were helpless against the junior quickly grew longer.
The Indians had no real answer, and thanks to plenty of run support and offense from the entire lineup, the Bees cruised to a 12-2 victory and punched a spot in the region championship and ensuing Class 3 state tournament.
“Hey, just happy,” Brookville coach Chris Glaize said of his feelings about his team’s performance and its chance to go back to states after missing out last season.
The Bees (18-7) play Fluvanna County at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the Region 3C title game at Liberty High School in Bedford.
With the chance to guarantee at least two more games on the line, Glaize didn’t have to think too much about who he’d send to the hill. Fort Defiance entered with the momentum of an upset over second-seeded Turner Ashby in the Region 3C quarterfinals, but Glaize believed his junior lefty had the tools to put the Bees in position for a win.
“We knew we were going to him on that four days’ rest,” Glaize said. “We knew we were giving the baseball to Brennan.”
From the outset, Glaize’s decision paid dividends.
In Abbott’s 11-pitch showing in the first inning, he threw nine strikes and picked up three of his nine total strikeouts.
“I was just trying to help out the team,” he said.
He was on all night, and didn’t allow a base runner until the fourth inning.
“We had talked about before the game [that I needed to] just throw strikes, don’t pick too much,” Abbott said. “… My mentality hadn’t changed the entire night. It was, ‘Just throw strikes, let the defense work,’ and we’ll win.”
Abbott mowed down batter after batter with his ability to work ahead in the count.
He threw 10 first-pitch strikes and went ahead 0-2 in the count five times.
“Once he’s ahead, he’s a really tough pitcher,” Fort Defiance coach Damian Fink said. “He was very comfortable in his full windup with nobody on, and honestly almost unhittable. … [In the fourth, we were able to] get some runners moving, get him rattled a little bit, but we just weren’t able to sustain it.”
In five innings, Abbott allowed two runs (both earned) and just two hits.
Both of the runs came in the fourth on Cam Herron’s two-run single to left field that scored Tristan Shoemaker and Ryan Cook. The two reached on a fielder’s choice and walk — Abbott’s first of the game — respectively, and the Indians finally got a chance to showcase their best asset: their speed.
Shoemaker stole second and third, and Cook also moved to second on a stolen base (one of five the Indians tallied on the day) to get into scoring position for Herron.
“We’re fast. That’s something we’ve been able to take advantage of the last month,” Fink said.
But aside from the rally in the fourth, Fort Defiance (16-9) couldn’t manufacture much more offense.
Luke Scrogham drew a walk in the fifth to become the Indians’ fifth batter to reach on the day but was stranded when Abbott recorded his final strikeout against Sutton.
“It’s just tonight we couldn’t get on base to take advantage of that,” Fink added. “So give [Abbott] credit.”
The Bees, meanwhile, put together an offensive showcase, complete with 15 hits.
Four players had multiple hits, and all but two recorded at least one hit. BHS never trailed and scored multiple runs in each of the first four frames.
“Well, 15 hits, I hope that’s big for our confidence. That’s nice to see this time of year,” Glaize said, “especially [because] our pitchers don’t have to throw that many quality pitches because you’ve got a lead.”
Abbott agreed, adding the run support — which came early thank to Jared Glinski’s two-run homer in the first — was “an added bonus.”
Glinski, went 2 for 4 with three RBIs, and Kyle Hammock (3 for 5), Kevin Breimann (two RBIs) and Abbott (3 for 4) each had three hits.
After striking out in both of his first two at-bats, Hammock knocked a single to center field in each of his next two opportunities, with each scoring a pair of runs. Abbott singled in a pair of runs in the second and tacked on another RBI in the third.
Hammock, Glisnki and Abbot, the Nos. 2, 3 and 4 batters, combined for eight hits, while the bottom of the lineup (hitters 7, 8 and 9 in Adam Lee, Breimann and Mason Anderson, respectively) combined for six hits.
“If you have hitting at the top of the lineup and bottom of the lineup, you’re gonna put runs on the board and put pressure on people,” Glaize said.