PARKER — There may be changes brewing in Brighton High School baseball.
The Bulldogs advanced to a district title game for the first time since 2004. Fifth-rated Legend High School turned back BHS 2-1 Saturday for the right to play in the double-elimination round of the state playoffs this weekend.
BHS also changed its team demeanor as well, something that sophomore TJ Egloff thinks contributed to an 18-3 record this season.
“We’re a team,” said Egloff, who had three hits and three RBIs in Brighton’s 10-0 win over Douglas County in Saturday’s first game. “We play as a team. That’s the difference between this year and last year.”
Egloff said last year’s edition of the Bulldogs wasn’t as solid as the 2012 version.
“We had little cliques,” he said. “This year, we were one big family. We sat down, had a talk.”
BHS routed Douglas County in the tournament opener 10-0. The game seemed to turn in the third inning. Jason Adkins lined a ball off the leg of Huskies’ pitcher Taylor Craft. Though he stayed in the game, Craft was not the same afterward.
In the fourth inning, BHS got to him for seven runs and put the game out of reach. Pitcher Rodney Morales, who got the win, singled home one run. Egloff singled home a run, and Brian Kelley drew a bases-loaded walk. Two DCHS errors let three unearned runs cross the plate.
“We just hit the ball,” Egloff said. “We’re solid everywhere else. So we just work on hitting. There wasn’t anything special about my hits. I hit fast balls. They were all down the middle – no movement.”
Brighton scored first in the title game against the Titans. Seth Bunn singled, reached second on an error, and advanced to third on a walk. Adkins singled off the leg of pitcher Tyler Honahan, which turned out to be a key play.
Even though Bunn scored, the ball stayed on the infield, which meant no other runners could score. Honahan retired the next two batters without seeing the ball leave the infield.
“If that ball gets through, we score two runs,” BHS coach Ray Garza said. “Then we hit a ball down the line, they turn a double play and they are out of the inning. Baseball is a weird goose.”
Legend tied the score in the third inning on a two-out base hit by Bobby Dalbec. The Titans took the lead in the fourth inning on back-to-back doubles by Collin Ross and Mike Baird.
Meantime, neither pitcher — Honahan nor Alex Werbach for Brighton — was allowing much in the way of base running traffic. Werbach allowed one hit in the last three innings. Honahan allowed two Brighton runners to reach base between the second and sixth innings.
The Bulldogs mounted one last threat in their half of the seventh. Egloff singled and advanced to second on a throwing error. James Smith’s grounder put Egloff at third with one out. But Honahan proceeded to strike out the next two BHS batters, and the Titans earned their slot in the double-elimination round of the state playoffs.
“We’re facing an above-average high school player (Honahan),” Garza said. “We also helped him out. We were swinging at pitches that were out of the zone. I don’t know why we did that. Our hitting has been average all year. When you stay average at a certain thing, it’s hard to get better. We don’t see that kind of pitching. You can’t practice that three, four days into Saturday.”
BHS loses nine players to graduation including Werbach, one of its two key pitchers.
“Alex and Rodney Morales put us in the position to be where we were,” Garza said. “Our hitting will come. We’re there. The knock on Brighton sports is we can’t win the big one. I hope people understand we won a big one. And against the No. 5 team in the state, we had them scared. We had them on their heels.”
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