The Brookland-Cayce Bearcats scored eight runs in the bottom of the fifth to defeat the Dreher Blue Devils 8-1 in the opening game of the 3A Lower State baseball bracket Thursday, May 11.
“It’s been that way all year,” Brookland-Cayce head coach Rusty Charpia said. “I don’t know what it is about the fifth inning. I bet about 80 percent of our runs have been scored in the fifth inning. Why? I can’t tell you. Maybe we’ve seen the opposing pitcher enough times and we start swinging the bat. For some reason the fifth inning has been our inning.”
Most of the game was a pitchers’ duel between Brookland-Cayce’s Hayden Thomas and Dreher’s Nolan Cook. Combined, they only allowed one hit through four innings.
Then the offenses got cooking in the top of the fifth. Dreher’s Jacob Muir drew a one-out walk, and Sheldon Coffman blasted a single. Then Matt Moore smashed a single to left field, scoring Muir to put the Blue Devils in front 1-0.
Brookland-Cayce found an answer in the bottom half of the inning. Jackson Thomas and Ty Marshall both singled, and Jaxson Corley reached on a bunt single to load the bases. Then the Bearcats began batting around. Tanner Staton sliced a single, scoring Marshall to tie the score at one. Parker Mergo followed with another single, scoring Thomas to give Brookland Cayce a 2-1 lead. BJ Etheridge kept the line moving with yet another single, scoring Corley. Robert McMillan reached, scoring Staton; and Hayden Thomas did the same, scoring Mergo. Etheridge scored on a wild pitch as the Bearcats took a commanding 6-1 lead.
Jackson Thomas came to the plate for the second time in the inning and unloaded a two-run single, scoring Hayden Thomas and Jordan Gibbs to set the final score at 8-1.
“The winners’ bracket is the winners’ bracket,” Charpia said. “I’d much rather be in that than in the losers’ bracket obviously. Now the second game is the big deal. Anybody that is 2-0, they have the advantage. They get to sit at home on Monday and wait and see who has to beat them twice. It’s still anybody’s ball game. Saturday’s game is going to be the big deal. Whoever comes out on top of that, anything can happen.”
Thomas went the distance for Brookland-Cayce giving up only one run on four hits while striking out nine. He also went 1-for-2 at the plate with an RBI.
Jackson Thomas went 2-for-3 for the Bearcats with two RBI. Parker Mergo and BJ Etheridge each went 1-for-3 with an RBI. Robert McMillan and Tanner Staton each went 1-for-4 with an RBI.
“There is a reason he has been recruited the way he has,” Charpia said of Hayden Thomas. “When he’s at home, if you can just get a couple of runs, I can’t remember the last time he’s been beat. We normally win when he’s throwing at home because he hardly gives up any runs. I know this––if the other team doesn’t score any runs, it’s hard to lose.”
For Dreher, Matt Moore led the way at the plate going 1-for-3 with an RBI. He also pitched two innings, giving up two runs on two hits.
Nolan Cook pitched four innings for the Blue Devils. He gave up six runs on eight hits and struck out four.
Brookland-Cayce would fall to Hanahan 4-3 Saturday, May 13 to wind up in the losers’ bracket of the Lower State bracket.
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