BREWER — The Hampden Academy baseball team used a season-opening victory over Brewer as the catalyst for a successful first half of its schedule.
Now Brewer hopes Friday night’s 6-0 victory over the Broncos in their rematch at Heddericg Field propels the Witches to a strong late-season run.
“The seniors got together and had a little talk before the game,” said Brewer coach Dana Corey. They knew that one, we needed to pull together as a team, and two, we needed some people to step up who had stepped up last year and take leadership roles and also carry some of the younger kids, and you could see that tonight.”
Chief among the senior leadership on display was the mound presence of righthander Kyle McLain, who pitched a two-hit shutout — retiring the final 13 batters he faced — to end Hampden’s three-game winning streak..
“That was probably the best stuff I’ve had so far this year,” said McLain. “Usually my fastball doesn’t have that much pop on it, but there’s something in the air, I guess.”
Not only did McLain control the Hampden batting order with his fastball, but also with his accuracy — 64 of his 89 pitches went for strikes.
“It was both his movement and velocity,” said Brewer catcher Nick Moore. “He had his fastball, and he also throws a slurve and that was working really good.”
Brewer (4-5) backed McLain with a defense that committed just one error and an offense that bunched five of its seven hits in the bottom of the fourth inning to fuel a six-run rally that was ignited by two Hampden errors.
“They gave us an extra out, and we had a few hits in a row and were able to do some hit-and-run with men on first and second.,” said Corey. “ We’re the type of team that has to manufacture runs, but we’re also the type of team where a lot of times if one or two guys get hits then the others follow real quickly.”
Joey Bartol opened the Brewer fourth by reaching on an infield error, then advanced to second on a sacrifice by Matt Morrow, who reached base on the play thanks to another Hampden error.
Bartol was cut down at third base on a bunt by Kyle Alexander, but Yuhi Sasaki and Ryan Adams followed with back-to-back singles to give Brewer a 2-0 lead.
A groundout by Brandon Gendreau plated the third run of the inning, followed by an RBI single by McLain, a walk to Moore and RBI singles by Dylan Oxley and Bartol to cap off the scoring.
That rally, ironically, came one inning after Brewer had loaded the bases with no one out only to come up empty, as Hampden righthander Connor Perry got McLain to pop out and then recorded back-to-back strikeouts to end the threat.
“It’s tough to come back from something like that,” said McLain, “but we were able to go back out in the field and have a six- or seven-pitch inning and then come back and get the bats going, so that was good.”
Hampden (6-4) managed just a leadoff single in the first inning by Cooper Antone and a double by Cody Miller with two out in the third.