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Wildcats learn no lead is safe
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Brunswick’s Jeff Brown slides to home plate ahead of Wildcat catcher John Johnson’s tag to score the second run of the game. Richmond Hill would come back but lost in extra innings 11-9.
Richmond Hill coach Mitchell Curry knew Thursday night’s game was going to be his teams first real test. Brunswick plays in region 2-AAAA and has the talent to finish strong in their region. So when Curry looked up at the scoreboard in the top of the sixth and saw his team leading 9-2 he had to be pretty pleased.
As high school baseball sometimes proves, no lead is safe.
The Wildcats wasted a solid effort by Matt Schlag in his first start of the season when they allowed Brunswick to score seven combined runs in the sixth and seventh innings to tie the game then two runs in the ninth to win it. Pretty much anything that could go wrong did in those final innings.
After giving up two early runs Schlag settled down and threw four consecutive scoreless innings while his team mates rallied for nine runs in the middle innings. Schlag finished with 2 strikeouts and only one walk while giving up eight hits over five innings. After three consecutive singles in the top of the sixth Curry went to the bench.
Matt Graney the Wildcats left handed reliever came in with one run already in and men in scoring position. After a pair of walks plated another run Graney coaxed a fly ball to right and got a strikeout to get the Cats back in the dugout still holding a 9-4 lead. Overall a good job of damage control, but the Pirate bench was smelling blood and would explode again in the seventh.
Six singles wrapped around an outfield error tied the game in the seventh and the winning run was caught at third trying to advance for the third out. The Wildcats deflated but determined had a chance to redeem themselves in the bottom half.
Left fielder Aaron Pittsley continued his good work with the bat,(3-5 2rbi) with a single to start the inning and advanced to second on an outfield error. A sacrifice bunt by Jeremy Goolsby followed but the pitcher fielded the ball and got Jake Dudley, in to pinch run, sliding in to third on a bang - bang play. Josh Futch,(3-4 HR rbi) followed with what could have been a game winning single if not for the failed sacrifice.
Dustin Mitchell pitched a scoreless eighth inning but the Pirates rallied for two runs in the ninth after the Wildcat defense, which had been stellar throughout this early season, committed two infield errors that helped them score two runs and made Mitchell the loser.
The Pirates Jeff Brown relieved in the eighth inning, pitched two strong and scoreless innings to pick up the win for Brunswick. Alex Doke started the game for the Pirates, him and Ryan Jones who relieved in the fourth inning had to weather a Wildcat uprising in the middle innings first.
In the third John Johnson(2-5 rbi) led off with a single, after getting picked off at second two were out but the Wildcats weren’t through. Two walks and Cameron Corbin’s single loaded the bases for designated hitter Nathan Kilburn,(2-5 2b 4rbi’s). Kilburn’s single down the left field line plated two runs to tie the game, then Pittsley’s fly ball double found a gap in left center field to clean the bases for three more runs.
In the fourth the onslaught continued. Futch led with a walk and stole second base on the next pitch. Johnson followed with an rbi single and prompted the Pirate bench to bring on Jones. Steven Boaen walked, Corbin sacrificed him to second base and the Pirate coaching staff elected to intentionally walk Scott Strickland to set up the force play. Kilburn was stopped on his way to the plate so coach Curry could give him a word of advice.
Kilburn took the advice and hit a two run double that gave the Wildcats what they later learned was not an insurmountable lead. The Wildcats fell to 3-1 and will now take on Savannah Christian at home on Tuesday March 13 with a 5:30 p.m. start and a game that has the potential to be another character builder for the Wildcats. Thursday, March 15 Johnson comes to Wildcat Field for a 5:30 start.   
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