Brocton advances to Class D?title game

BROCTON – Three straight walks loaded the bases with no outs and the tying run was at the plate so Brocton coach Terry Presto took a stroll to the mound in the top of the fifth inning to have a chat with his starting pitcher, Scot Laurie.

The conversation was short and to the point.

”I told him I had another pitcher warming up,” Presto said.

The left-hander got the message.

Loud and clear.

Laurie retired the first batter on a popup and then wiggled out of the jam entirely thanks to an inning-ending double play to highlight the Bulldogs’ 8-1 victory over Sherman in a Section 6 Class D semifinal baseball game on a cold and windy evening in northern Chautauqua County.

The win advances Brocton, the No. 4 seed, into the championship game against No. 3 Pine Valley, a 20-10 winner over No. 2 North Collins in the other semifinal. That game is scheduled for Wednesday at a time and site to be announced.

For the Bulldogs, who haven’t made the final in years, it will be a rematch they have been waiting for.

”The last two years we lost (in the semifinals) by one run to Pine Valley,” Presto said. ”Most of these kids went through those years.”

Laurie was one of them.

All told, the senior yielded only a first-inning infield single to Travis Henry. And although his command wasn’t precise – he walked six – Laurie never gave in, struck out nine and was the beneficiary of a couple of fine defensive plays that derailed Sherman rallies.

”I think we did miss some opportunities on the bases today,” Wildcats coach Ty Harper said, ”but at the same time he threw well. … We couldn’t get anything going. …Hats off to Scot. He threw a great game.”

Laurie received all the support he would need in the bottom of the third inning.

Trailing 1-0, Brocton scored five times off losing pitcher Ryan Robson. The rally was highlighted by a sacrifice fly by Jordan Patterson, a suicide squeeze bunt by Dan Ferguson and an RBI single by Ryan Johnson, the first of his two hits. Two Wildcats’ errors also aided the uprising.

The Bulldogs added three insurance runs in the sixth, all unearned, and Laurie retired Sherman, the No. 9 seed, in order in the seventh.

”I had him worried,” Presto said with a smile. ”He asked me, ‘Am I going to finish?’ I told him, ‘You tell me.’ I knew he wanted it.”

The Wildcats’ only run came in the third inning on a groundout by Jake Ames. Sherman’s other two scoring opportunities – in the fifth and sixth – were derailed by a pair of Brocton defensive gems.

After Presto’s visit to the mound in the fifth, Laurie got Ames to pop up for the first out and then induced Henry to line out to first baseman Nash Delcamp, who touched first base to complete the double play. An inning later, Ferguson, the Bulldogs’ catcher, picked Robson off third base to thwart another rally.

”He’s a senior,” Presto said of Ferguson. ”(The coaches) make the call, but he doesn’t have to do it. It all depends. He’s smart enough. That’s the luxury of having a senior back there.”

Robson, a workhorse during the Wildcats’ surprising late-season run, worked three innings, gave up three hits, struck out four and walked two. Jeremy Cole finished up, yielding three unearned runs and two hits, while striking out three and walking one.

The future, however, appears bright for Sherman, which will have all but one starter returning.

”It’s definitely a step in the right direction,” Harper said. ”Hopefully, we can carry it over to next year.”