SALEM — Brookville was down to its final at-bat in Thursday’s Class 3 state baseball semifinals, and coach Chris Glaize had a message for his team.
There’s no clock in baseball, the coach said, so slow down, work the count and hit away.
The plan nearly worked.
Brookville made a furious comeback at Kiwanis Field by being patient at the plate, but the Bees eventually were stifled by reliever Trey Stover, and the season came to a close with a 4-3 loss to Tabb High School.
“I wish we’d have taken that approach all day,” Glaize said of Brookville’s resolve in the top of the seventh inning.
The Bees entered the final frame trailing the Tigers 4-0. Despite threatening with potentially dangerous innings, the Bees had faltered with runners in scoring position all day.
Then freshman Kevin Breimann belted a home run to left that landed in the trees.
Zach Thompson smoked a run-scoring double down the left field line.
And Kyle Hammock brought in another run with a groundout.
Suddenly, the Bees (19-9) were threatening to end Tabb’s season instead of Tabb putting Brookville on the ropes. The Bees then put two additional runners on base.
But Stover, a lanky 6-foot-1 right-hander strode to the mound. He got Jed Howard to hit into a fielder’s choice, putting runners at first and third, and then struck out Hunter Brown with a high fastball to end the game and earn the save.
Brookville’s season came to an end with the go-ahead run at first base and the tying run just 90 feet away.
“I was like, ‘I need to get these last two outs, I can’t let my team down in this kind of situation after they’ve worked so hard to get to this point,’” Stover said. “It’s just determination.”
BHS starter Brennan Abbott and Tabb’s Ben Wilson were locked in a pitchers’ duel through four innings. But the Tigers (21-3) struck four times in the fateful fifth, highlighted by a two-run bomb by catcher Connor Kennedy.
Kennedy roped a long, curving drive down the left-field line. It barely stayed fair, caroming off the foul pole and back onto the field.
“I hit it off the handle a little bit. As soon as I hit it, I said, ‘Get out, ball,’” Kennedy said of his first home run of the season.
Wilson earned the win, allowing just four hits in 5 2/3 innings, striking out four and getting out of several jams.
Except for the fifth, Abbott was nearly flawless. He threw six innings, yielded seven hits and four runs (two earned) while striking out seven. He didn’t allow a walk on the afternoon.
“He did pitch a wonderful game except for that one inning, which wasn’t all his fault,” Glinski said. “He got guys to ground out, and we didn’t make all the plays we needed to.”
Glinski, who led Brookville at the plate by going 3 for 4, had a feeling Brookville was going to make a comeback in the seventh.
He entered the day with an encouraging message written on his arm, a tribute to his friend, Robert “Skyler” McConville, who was killed in a single-vehicle car wreck on May 6, 2018.
“I felt something special in that last inning, like he was there,” Glinski said as he fought back tears following the game. “I just felt like he was with us.”
The comeback bid began with Breimann, the tall, imposing freshman called up from JV during the latter half of the season. It was Breimann’s first career varsity homer, and it brought Brookville players spilling out of the dugout. By the time the Bees had narrowed the deficit to 4-3, players were pumped, hoping they were destined to take the lead.
“We just didn’t do enough early,” Glaize said. “We had chances early.”
The Bees left nine runners on base Thursday.
The loss was Abbott’s first of the season. He paced BHS on the mound this season with nine wins and an ERA that hovered below 1.00 for the majority of the year.
“It’s been a really good one,” Glaize said of the season. Asked to put the season into perspective, the coach added, “I’ll do that in a week or two. I’m gonna let this one sting for a little while, because it stings. … It’s a game that we could’ve won and we didn’t. And that’s the stinging part.”
Ben Cates covers high school sports for The News & Advance. Reach him at (434) 385-5527.