Brookhaven Academy keeps postseason push alive

Published 10:07 am Wednesday, April 17, 2024

BROOKHAVEN — The final week of the regular season for Brookhaven Academy baseball is all about taking care of business.

If the Cougars can sweep, or win two out of three games against Bowling Green School, then BA will likely qualify for the MAIS 5A postseason. The Cougars don’t totally control their own destiny, they need the district leading Columbia Academy Cougars to win their series against Parklane Academy too.

On Tuesday at Williams-Gillis Ballpark, the Cougars got the series with Bowling Green started in the best possible way with a 12-2 win. Game two will begin at 4:30 p.m. on Friday at BGS in Franklinton, Louisiana.  The third game of the series is then scheduled to begin at approximately 6:30 p.m. on Friday after the conclusion of game two. 

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The series opener was tight early on Tuesday as BA built a 2-0 lead after three innings, only to see the visiting Buccaneers tie the game at 2-2 in the top of the fourth inning.

Senior Sam Stevens hit a groundout that scored fellow senior Matt Newman for the first run of the game for the Cougars in the bottom of the second. Stevens and Newman are two of the four seniors on the roster at BA along with Avery Griffin and Sam Evans. 

Griffin had a groundout to score Evans in the bottom of the third to put BA up 2-0.

Sophomore pitcher Caleb Authement ran into some trouble in the top of the fourth when BGS pulled even. Authement hit a batter, walked a batter, and then had both those runners move up on a wild pitch.

Back-to-back singles by the Buccaneers tied the game at 2-2, but Authement got a strikeout with runners on second and third to limit the damage and end the frame.

BA went back up 3-2 in the bottom of the fourth when freshman Tucker Tarver doubled to score Newman.

The bottom of the fifth is when the Cougars broke the game open. 

Authement, who is called “Big Country,” by his teammates and coaches, crushed a pitch a country mile. The ball loudly banged off the top of the wooden outfield fence and scored three runs to give the Cougars breathing room for a 6-2 lead.

In just over five innings on the mound, Authement struck out eight, walked four and gave up two earned runs on five hits. 

BA kept pouring it on in the fifth, getting an RBI single from Liam Magee and then another run scored by Newman.

The 10-run mercy rule went into effect in the bottom of the sixth when Tarver drew a bases loaded walk. Magee had singled in a run, Newman walked in a run and Griffin hit an RBI double earlier in the inning to expand the Cougar advantage. 

If Brookhaven Academy does make the playoffs, they already know they’ll face the Cathedral School Green Wave in the opening round of the MAIS 5A playoffs. 

BA and Cathedral met twice in the regular season, with BA winning 15-10 in the first game and Cathedral taking the next meeting 11-10.

Spring’s team moves to 12-13 overall with the win over Bowling Green. The Cougars have won four of their last five, including taking two games in a series last week with Parklane Academy.

Brookhaven plays in a deep district along with Parklane, Columbia, Silliman Institute, and Oak Forest Academy.

What makes it even tougher is the division schedule that includes a weekly three-game series against each district foe. Playing three games in a week, including a doubleheader each Friday, means you better have plenty of arms ready to take the hill.

Oak Forest (17-8) and Silliman Institute (18-4) came into Tuesday with identical 9-3 records within the district. OFA took game one of that series 16-6. Columbia Academy (18-8) sat just behind them with an 8-4 overall record. CA beat Parklane Academy on Tuesday by an 11-1 score. 

Parklane Academy is 6-7 in the district and with its win, BA moves to 5-8. If the schools end with identical records, the Cougars own the tiebreaker after getting the series win over Parklane last week. 

In a district that’s top heavy with talent, making the playoffs will be a solid goal reached by the Cougars in Spring’s first year as head coach.

“We’re a good baseball team, we’ve just been playing some really good baseball teams within this district,” said Spring. “You are going to see a lot of guys from this district go on and play after high school.”

Some of those players include Oak Forest junior Logan Freche, who’s committed to Tulane, and Columbia Academy sophomore pitcher Logan Buckley, considered to be one of the best left-handed pitchers in the state.

 Spring has players on his roster that will play past high school too, as Griffin has signed with Copiah-Lincoln CC and Newman has already inked with Southwest Mississippi CC.

With only a combined eight seniors and juniors on the roster, Spring has been pleased to see his young team not get too low after losses to the schools at the top of the district earlier in the season. 

“We’ve just reminded our guys to keep showing up and keep working,” said Spring. “I’ve been really proud of them as they’ve kept their heads up, even when we’ve struggled.”

The hope for the BA senior foursome of Evans, Griffin, Newman and Stevens is that they’ll get to suit up at least one more time at Williams-Gillis Ballpark by earning a postseason berth. 

“We’ve had to work hard this year to get better, but we’ve got a good group of guys that have stayed together,” said Griffin. “I think we’re going to make it to the playoffs, I really do. We’ve just got to take it one game at a time on Friday.”