Prior to Tuesday’s state quarterfinal game at Lord Botetourt, Brookville catcher Jared Glinski walked up to shortstop Zach Thompson and made a prediction.
“You’re gonna hit one out tonight,” he told Thompson.
A bold prophecy, because the wiry leadoff hitter who doubles as a wide receiver in the fall hadn’t hit a home run all season.
But in the sixth inning, Thompson’s eyes lit up. He turned on a belt-high, first-pitch fastball and smashed it beyond the left-field fence.
“I just saw that I liked it and attacked,” Thompson said. “It felt good to get that first one for this season, but it felt even better to get that win.”
Brookville (19-8) entered in need of a strong night at the plate after Fluvanna County held the Campbell County boys to just five hits in last week’s Region 3C championship.
But facing elimination Tuesday, the Bees emerged victorious and in the process became a serious contender for the Class 3 crown, moving on to the state final four behind strong pitching and a renewed offensive approach.
“The Fluvanna game was really a wakeup call for the bats,” Glinski said. “We just took our foot off the gas and realized we needed to pick it up against Botetourt and set the precedent for the [next] two games.”
Another test awaits the Bees on Friday morning, when they play Tabb High in the state semifinals at Salem’s Kiwanis Field. First pitch is scheduled for 9 a.m.
The Bees are making their second state final four appearance in three years and trying to get back to a state title game for the first time since 2012, when they lost to Powhatan in Chris Glaize’s first season as head coach.
Tuesday’s win gave the coach hope his team can continue responding in the weight of the moment. Glaize has talked all season about his players, how they’re resilient, how life against a grueling Seminole District slate prepared them for the postseason, how they’re talented enough to play with anyone in Class 3.
The Bees may be on their way to proving him right. Players didn’t panic, he said, after last week’s loss to Fluvanna.
“We went back to work the next day in practice, redialed in, refocused and did what we had to do,” Glaize said. “I was really impressed with our looseness. We weren’t tight; we couldn’t wait to play again.”
Part of that comes from the experienced pitching staff comprised of ace Brennan Abbott (9-0, 1.14 ERA) and fellow starters Brock Duff (5-3, 2.64) and Jed Howard (3-3, 1.73).
And when BHS is at its best, the top half of its lineup can be lethal. Thompson, who pounded out three hits against Botetourt, is followed by Kyle Hammock, whom Glaize refers to as “our dirtball.”
“He’s just a dirtbag,” the coach said, “getting bunts down and hitting behind runners.”
Glinski is the three-hole hitter who sports a team-best .383 average and a team-high five homers. Abbott, hitting .476 in seven postseason games, follows him, and Howard hits after that. All five are hitting over .300 for the entire season.
Thompson said his teammates learned something about their approaches against Fluvanna pitching.
“You’ve got to leave that in the past,” he said.
“You can’t dwell on it. We were taking too many strikes [against Fluvanna]. This time, we just came to hit.”
Glinksi credited the offensive barrage to aggressiveness, something he’s committed to help his teammates maintain moving forward.
“In my three years of experience, we’re always a team that’s a little bit slept on, playing an underdog role,” the junior said. “But we’ve come alive at the right time of the season.”
Glinski’s eyes lit up Tuesday night, too. He clobbered a solo homer that gave BHS a 2-1 lead in the fourth.
“When you see all your teammates getting pumped and waiting for you at the plate, you don’t get a much better feeling than that in all of sports,” he said of rounding the bases after a homer.
Brookville will need that confidence at the plate Friday. The Yorktown-based Tabb Tigers (20-3) swept through Bay Rivers District play and then mauled three more opponents on their way to winning the Region 3A title.
“How are they gonna respond under pressure?” Glaize said of his semifinal concerns, and then added: “But they’re resilient.”
For Thompson, the semifinals are all about duplicating Tuesday’s performances.
“Come out aggressive,” he said.
While Glinski was pleased with the offensive effort Tuesday, he wasn’t surprised by Thompson’s blast. After all, he predicted it.
“I was really excited for him,” the catcher said, “and it was cool to call it.”
Ben Cates covers high school sports for The News & Advance. Reach him at (434) 385-5527.