Brookhaven Academy baseball drops MAIS 5A second round opener

Published 1:59 pm Wednesday, May 1, 2024

In a tight playoff opener filled with emotions, big plays and huge calls, the Columbia Academy Cougars took a 3-2 win over Brookhaven Academy on Tuesday at Williams-Gillis Ballpark at BA.

The schools are members of the same MAIS 5A district and Columbia Academy swept Brookhaven Academy when the teams met during the regular season. Those wins for Columbia came by 14-10, 12-6, and 15-1 final scores.

Brookhaven Academy (16-14) has been playing its best baseball of the season lately though as evident by the 2-1 series victory last week against Cathedral School in the opening round of the MAIS 5A playoffs. Columbia cruised past St. Aloysius in the first round, winning 19-0 and 11-0.

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BA won its opener 13-3 last week at home over Cathedral and then dropped game two on Friday 10-0 in Natchez, before bouncing back in a big way to win 11-0 in the series finale that followed game two.

If their season is to continue, the Cougars and coach Randy Spring will need to win two games on Thursday at Columbia Academy (23-8). The first pitch of the opener begins at 5 p.m. If a third game is needed, it will be played immediately after the second game of the series.

The game on Tuesday was filled with moments where it looked like the blue-clad Cougars from Brookhaven would take control, but Columbia Academy made the plays needed to hold off the home team.

“I told my guys that you hate to lose this game, but at the same time this is the type of one that you want to be in this time of year,” said BA first year head coach Randy Spring. “It was a well-pitched, intense game between two teams playing really good ball right now. Columbia is a very good team, and we were right there with them on every pitch.”

Both teams threw their aces, with Brookhaven Academy going with sophomore Caleb Authement and Columbia Academy countering with freshman Trent Buckley.

Buckley struck out 10 batters in five innings while walking seven and giving up two earned runs on three hits. Junior left hander Zeke Todd got the save, tossing the final two innings and striking out three, walking three and giving up just one hit.

Authement also went five innings for Brookhaven Academy on the hill. He struck out six, walked six and gave up three earned runs on three hits while also hitting six batters. Brookhaven Academy also got two outstanding innings of relief pitching from junior Carter Case as he allowed one hit, struck out five and walked two batters and got out of a bases loaded jam when he entered the game.

Columbia and coach Keith Stanley got one run in the top of the first when Buckley scored on a single by sophomore Roman Lawrence.

Authement hit back-to-back batters to load the bases, but then got back-to-back strikeouts to end the inning for BA. He’d also get a fly-out to end the second inning with CA runners on second and third.

BA broke through in the bottom of the second as senior Matt Newman began the inning with a walk and then scored when senior Sam Stevens hit a two-out double.

With two outs in the top of the fourth, Columbia filled the bases when freshman Carson Stuart was hit by a pitch, freshman Corban Lawrence drew a walk and then Buckley was issued an intentional walk.

With Roman Lawrence at the plate, there was a play that then caused a lengthy delay in the action. Lawrence thought he had earned a walk, but the pitch was called a strike on appeal. CA had sent a runner home, and the runner was eventually sent back to third and Lawrence returned to the plate with a 3-2 count.

All that was much ado about nothing as Authement then hit Lawrence on the first pitch after the delay, bringing the run back home from third for a 2-1 Columbia advantage.

Authement recovered to get a huge strikeout of Owen Simmons to end the inning with the bases loaded for CA.

The huddling of the umpires to make a decision about the play in the fourth came after a call at the plate to end the third inning that included some controversy.

Senior Avery Griffin was tagged out at the plate to end the inning by Buckley on a play where the home fans and coaches felt like the plate had been obstructed before Griffin was called out. CA also ended the bottom of the fifth inning by tagging a BA runner out at the plate.

Brookhaven knotted the game in the bottom of the fourth with another two-out rally. Stevens reached via single and then moved to second when Case drew a walk. He later scored on a double by senior Samuel Evans.

Columbia got the game winning run in the top of the sixth via an error.

It looked like the BA offense was threatening in the bottom of the sixth, but Columbia got a double play to end the inning. Brookhaven also had two runners on when Todd got the final out to end the game in the seventh on a hard hit ball by Newman down the third base line.

Brookhaven Academy has two strong pitchers available for Thursday as Griffin and freshman Tucker Tarver are available in the effort to extend the series.

Tarver struck out six, walked two and gave up five hits last week in game three to close out the series at Cathedral.

Griffin is a Copiah-Lincoln CC signee and one of four seniors on the roster along with Newman (Southwest MS signee), Evans and Stevens.

“We’ve just got to focus on doing whatever it takes to get it to a third game,” said Spring. “I know we’ve got some guys that can get it done on the hill for us that are still available and we know it’s going to take a high level effort to win at their place, but I also know we’ll be ready to go compete.”