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June 8, 2012
Lake Braddock 7, C. D. Hylton 4: Lake Braddock has reached the state AAA baseball finals three times prior to 2012. The Bruins have yet to come away with the title. Michael Church and opportunistic hitting made sure they'll have another chance at the trophy.
Church wasn't dominant, allowing ten hits in all, but he pitched out of some tough situations and got big outs. Church finished with a complete-game win that pushed the Bruins to the brink of a state championship.
Hylton drew first blood when Andre Scrubb powered a Church curveball high over the left field fence to give the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first. The Bruins answered right back in the top of the second. Thomas Rogers stroked a one-out double, and Scrubb followed that with three consecutive walks (the last of which was to Jack Owens) to tie the game. Garrett Driscoll's deep sac fly scored Feola to give Lake Braddock its first lead.
Even though the score was just 2-1 after two, Scrubb piled up 59 pitches to labor through those two innings. He had thrown 122 through five. The Bulldogs ran into a similar problem to that which plagued Cosby in the state quarter-finals against Lake Braddock: Free passes. Scrubb walked four men early in the game and hit another.
Hylton tied it up in the third. Scrubb reached on a hot shot to third base that Lewis couldn't quite handle. Following his single, a passed ball and a wild pitch put courtesy runner Trey Bridis on second, then third. When Justin Sneed stole second after walking, the attempt to throw him out wound up on the ground for just a moment, allowing Bridis to come home.
Feola legged out an infield single in the fourth, and a passed ball put him on second. Joe Darcy's single down the right field line scored Feola to put Lake Braddock back on top, 3-2. Darcy, the number nine hitter, finished 2-for-3 with the RBI.
Alex Gransback led off the top of the fifth with a single, but he wound up on second after a bobble in left field gave him an extra base. Lewis then singled Gransback home to give the Bruins a 4-2 lead. Spruill drilled a double off the wall in right-center to score Lewis. After a sacrifice bunt by Dylan O'Connor, Spruill scored on a wild pitch, making it 6-2 in favor of Lake Braddock.
Church continued to look strong in the mid-to-late stages of the game. He got out of a little jam in the fifth, when Hylton had runners on second and third with two outs. A weak grounder to first took care of that. He wasn't quite as lucky in the sixth, when a two-out error allowed Sneed to get on base, and Buddy Meredith scored him with a double.
The Bruins got some insurance in the seventh. Spruill singled, then reached third on two separate throwing errors by new pitcher Alec Bettinger. He scored on an attempted squeeze play when the pitch wound up in the dirt. Frazier couldn't make the play, and Lake Braddock had a four-run lead.
Hylton didn't go quietly in the seventh. Scrubb slammed a one-out double, then stole second and came around to score after a throwing error on a Sneed grounder. Sneed reached second on a balk by Church. However, a strikeout and a groundout put the Bruins (25-3) into tomorrow's final.
Hylton, which finished at 22-5, will return its top eight hitters (including Scrubb) from this year's regional title team in 2013. That's a scary prospect for the rest of the Northwest. Scrubb paced the Bulldogs with a 3-for-4 day at the plate, including a home run and a double, in addition to striking out eight in six innings of work.
Lake Braddock last appeared in the state title game in 1997, when the Bruins lost 3-2 to Lee-Davis. Its other two losses were also close, losing by one and two runs, respectively. Lake Braddock will try to wash away those bittersweet memories with the 2012 AAA Championship.
LB (25-3)?????0201301 7 8 2
Hyl (22-5)????1010011 4 10 3
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