VIDEO: WIAA D2 baseball: Productive at bats advance Prescott
PRESCOTT -- The flow of the game felt like the Cardinals were going to cruise to a victory.
In the fourth inning, Prescott pitcher Andrew Rozmairek, who had kept Somerset at bay, started to leave the ball up in the zone. The Spartans took advantage cutting the Prescott lead to 5-3.
The Cardinals responded with three more runs in the bottom of the fourth inning and earned an 8-3 victory over Somerset in the first round of the WIAA D3 regional quarterfinals in Prescott on Thursday, May 25.
It’s tough to beat a team three times in a season. Prescott had already defeated Somerset twice this year. The Cardinals have also been focused this year on cleaning things up to avenge an early exit from the playoffs last year.
Head coach Jeff Ryan said that sans one “faux pas” in the outfield that led to a run, the Cardinals had answered many of the pressing questions.
“Everything starts over at playoff time,” Ryan said. “Both teams have the same record going into the game. I know that is cliche, but it’s true.”
Junior Peter Brookshaw scored three times and had two singles in three at bats. Senior Zach Dolan was 2-for-3 with two runs scored.
Brookshaw gets the attention as teams prepare to attack the Prescott offense. The Cardinals know that if they are going to make a deep run in the playoffs, they are going to need to have more to their offense than Brookshaw, who is hitting well above .500 and has shattered the Prescott record for doubles.
After Brookshaw led the third inning off with a single, Bo Smith followed with a double. Senior Jake Block drove them both in to give the Cardinals a 4-1 lead. Sophomore Noah Matzek sacrificed pinch runner Cameron Smith over to third base. Smith scored on an RBI-groundout by Dan Knopf.
The Knopf groundout was an example of Prescott manufacturing runs. It was also an example of a productive out.
“If you ground out to the shortstop, or if you move the runner over with a bunt, sac fly, if you really focus on statistics like that, I think it alleviates some of the pressure,” Ryan said. “I think some people view a 3-for-4 game as being better than a game where a guy goes 1-for-3 and drives in two runs. I think it’s kind of hard in high school baseball to convince kids that if they do make an out it was a productive out.”
Senior Luke Murphy drove in a run with a sacrifice fly to make the score 6-3 in the fifth inning.
The Cardinals found a variety of ways to make use of outs against Somerset.
As the playoffs progress, it may get more difficult for Prescott as Ryan said he heard the Spartans talking about the decision to pitch to, or walk Brookshaw after he hit an RBI-single in the first inning. Brookshaw would come around to score in the inning to give Prescott a 2-0 lead.
With no one on base, Somerset pitched to the junior and he hit a single. Smith followed the at bat with a double and the Cardinals were quickly in business.
Smith said it’s become normal for teams to pitch around Brookshaw.
“It’s happened the last three games,” Smith said. “If someone is on second they’re just gonna walk him to pitch to me. It’s nice for me because I can get RBIs and just crush the ball.”
Smith sees the walks to Brookshaw as great opportunities to hit with runners on base.
“I just want to hit him in,” Smith said. “He’s been smashing the ball all year, so it makes sense (that they don’t want to pitch to him). It just means we get more chances to score.”
Ryan said that he has talked to Brookshaw about the walks and that there might be games where he is going to get three walks.
Smith said he thought the team had enough hitters to make teams pay.
“I feel like we have a really good hitting team,” Smith said. “We have Peter, Dolan, Luke, and I feel like we can all smash the ball. I think we could make it to state if we are all hitting the ball consistently.”