The Junction City Brigade (20-13) dominated the Midwest A’s (22-8) on Monday night to secure a spot in this weekend’s Cowdin Cup Championship series. The Brigade defeated the A’s by a score of 9-4. The game was not as a close as the final score indicated. The Brigade held a 9-0 lead in the ninth inning, before the A’s scored all four of its runs in the bottom of the ninth.
“It was really good to score three in the first (inning) and set the tone from there,” Brigade head coach Seth Wheeler said.
Freshman pitcher Joseph Flood got the start on the mound, and excelled for the Brigade. He allowed one hit, no runs, and struck out one batter in five innings of work. Sophomore pitcher Nate McBroom replaced Flood in the sixth. He allowed three hits, no runs, and didn’t record a strikeout in three innings of work. Freshman Eli Deleon replaced McBroom in the ninth inning, and struggled. He allowed four runs and three hits while failing to record a strikeout. Sophomore Austyn Gooch closed the game for the Brigade. He finished off the ninth inning by allowing one hit and striking out one batter.
“Flood was as good as we could have asked. We were hoping to get one, maybe two, innings out of him. He was just rolling, so we kept running him out for one more until he threw five scoreless (innings). He gave up one hit and there weren’t really any scoring situations. He was as good as we’ve had all year,” Wheeler said.
The Brigade were spectacular on offense Monday night. Junction City recorded 16 hits. Freshman pitcher Charlie Peyla got one hit on Monday night. Freshman catcher Andrew Morrow got two hits and five RBIs. Senior outfielder Ryan Banwart and freshman catcher Matt Westphal also got two hits apiece for the Brigade. Sophomore outfielder Tyler Bracht, sophomore first baseman Lane Fleming, and freshman infielder Andrew McKenzie all recorded three hits each for Junction City. Wheeler talked about the Brigade’s offensive performance on Monday night.
“We were getting it done all game offensively. Tyler Bracht was great. That might be the best game out of anybody that we’ve had all year. He hit two doubles and had a bunt hit. He led off the game with a double and set the tone from there. All the way up and down the lineup, we had great at-bats,” Wheeler said.
Wheeler talked about Morrow’s performance.
“(Morrow)’s been probably our most consistent hitter. He just has good at-bats and barrels balls up on a consistent basis. We’re really comfortable with him at the plate,” Wheeler said.
The Brigade’s victory gave it a 2-1 advantage in the Mid-Plains League playoffs semifinals series. The Brigade will face the Topeka Golden Giants for the Cowdin Cup this weekend.
The Brigade currently have two Cowdin Cup titles to its name. Junction City will attempt to be the first team in the history of the Mid-Plains League to win the championship in back-to-back years. The Brigade won the title in 2016. Wheeler talked about his team’s familiarity with a championship environment.
“We only have five or six guys from last year’s squad. I don’t know if anyone’s feeling any added pressure. I think the guys know the expectations this year. Cecil (Aska, general manager of the Brigade) laid it out on day one. The expectation is to win and the expectation is to win the league. They don’t like playing in games where people think they’re supposed to be the underdog. If we play well, we’re going to win. If we don’t, we won’t,” Wheeler said.