Saturday night was very memorable for Brigade fans after Junction City had a 4-3 walk-off in game two of a doubleheader to complete a home sweep of Topeka but, after the Brigade blanked Topeka 4-0 in game, game two did not have a strong start.
The Golden Giants came out firing, scoring three runs in the first two innings. Defensively the Brigade struggled early, as all three runs were off of JC errors.
Starter Casey Steward settled down after the second and begin to really get into a rhythm but despite the pitching stabilization, the Brigade could not break through on offense as Golden Giant starter Cameron Murphy pitched six great innings, not giving up a single run on the night.
As the Brigade entered the top of the seventh, Casey Steward came back in to pitch his final inning. Three straight batters would reach base for the Golden Giants giving them the bases loaded with nobody out.
After a brief visit from head coach Brandon Bachar, Casey Steward remained on the mound and somehow, Steward got out of that jam without giving up any runs. A double play and a ground out retired the Golden Giants in the seventh and ended Steward’s night at a season-high 99 pitches. Steward finished his night with the final line of seven innings pitched with only one earned run allowed and with four strikeouts.
With only three hits through six innings there wasn’t a lot of hope for the Brigade but a chance emerged in the bottom of the seventh as the first reliever entered the game for the Golden Giants. A leadoff walk from Jace Stewart led to a stolen base and an RBI single from Thomas Beiswagner which inched them closer to the lead.
Tanner Martin came in for Steward in the eighth and immediately got into a sticky situation. The 24-minute half-inning produced another bases loaded situation for the Brigade with two outs. Martin bared-down and was able to strike out pinch-hitter Noah Buss looking on a tight 3-2 count to end the top of the eighth.
The Brigade was able to earn another run thanks to a Grant Howard RBI double but, the tying run was thrown out at the plate leaving the Brigade trailing by one with just three outs remaining.
After a dominating top of the ninth from Tanner Martin, the Brigade had the top three in their order due up. Graff began the inning with a ground out and Price Allman would stepped up to the plate and struck a first pitch single to get things rolling for the Brigade.
After going down in the count 0-2, Dalton Nelson followed that up by also singling giving power hitter Garret Redden two runners on with one out.
After a Golden Giant wild pitch, the runners advanced to second and third giving them no choice but to intentionally walk Redden, loading the bases for Gus Freeman.
Freeman knew exactly what pitch he was looking for to end the game and give his team the win and the series sweep and Topeka graciously gave it him.
“Those are the moments you dream of, that’s why we play baseball.” Freeman said about the moment. “Just to have the confidence and to know what pitch I was looking for and being able to do some damage.”
Freeman smacked a ball into the gap driving in two, winning the game and securing the series sweep for the Brigade.
“In my head it was just right guy, right spot,” Bachar said. “At that point I had 100% confidence in Gus that he was going to get the job done.”
Coach also added that “Walk-offs don’t suck” in his final words before heading off to enjoy the Saturday night fireworks.
The win moves Junction City to a spot all by themselves at first place in the Mid-Plains League with a 11-7 record. The Brigade will enjoyed a day off on Sunday before heading off to Belton, Missouri to play a one-game series against the Midwest A’s on Monday.
Kody Jones shone in his swan song appearance for the Junction City Brigade, dominating Topeka 4-0 in game one of Saturday’s doubleheader.
The game got off to a very hot start for the Brigade as Kade Graff and Price Allman led off the first with singles. A double steal later and Garret Redden would drove in Graff for his league leading 21st run of the season. Allman would score later in the inning on a wild pitch giving the Brigade an early 2-0 lead.
From that point on the game might as well have been finished as Jones controlled everything. In Jones’ five innings of work, he never allowed more than one baserunner per inning.
“It feels awesome when the breaking stuff is working and you can throw it for a strike, make them swing and miss at it,” Jones said. “There is no better feeling in the world. Everyone has been super kind to me and I hope I get the chance to come back.”
Jones is headed home to Arizona to be with family.
The Brigade added another run to their lead in the fifth, as Gus Freeman drove in Dalton Nelson on a two-out single. While pitching was the focus of this game, the Brigade’s baserunning once again showed why they’re the best the MPL in both steals and stealing percentage.
Junction City stole seven bases led by Nelson with three steals and Allman following behind with two.
Brian Bruxvoort came in for relief ending Jones’ night with the final line of five innings pitched, only two hits allowed, no earned runs, and seven strikeouts.
“It feels good to get a win like this and take the pressure of the offense.” head coach Brandon Bachar said.
The Brigade added one more run in the seventh from a Garret Redden solo home run, giving them a 4-0 lead headed into the final half-inning. The Brigade tallied eight hits in the game. Allman and Redden each racked up multiple hits for the Brigade with Allman going 4-for-4 at the plate to lead Junction City in hits.
Bruxvoort also pitched very well for the Brigade, pitching the final two innings, and allowing no runs.
Despite a rough beginning for Brigade starter Tristan Wolf, Junction City had enough to pull out a 6-3 series opening win over Topeka on Thursday.
Wolf gave up two runs in the first but the Brigade responded well with a Kade Graff home run in the bottom of the inning to cut the lead in half which settled Junction City into the game.
In the bottom of the second, Casey Steward led off the inning with a home run tying the game for the Brigade.
Junction City then sparked a two-out rally, scoring two more runs thanks to a Thomas Beiswagner walk and singles from Graff, Allman, and Nelson.
“Beiswagner has done a great job getting on base for us this season.” head coach Brandon Bachar said. “it was just awesome to see him get the bat to ball tonight.”
Wolf only gave up one more run for the rest of his outing in the fourth. For the rest of the game, the Brigade pitchers controlled the game and never let it out of their grasp.
Wolf finished his night with seven innings pitched with one earned run two walks and five strikeouts.
“When I go out there I like to pitch to contact, and let them get themselves out.” Wolf said.
The Brigade added some security runs in the fourth and the sixth after more clutch two-out hitting from Nelson and Allman giving the Brigade a 6-3 lead heading into the final innings.
Nelson finished his night hitting two-for-four with an RBI, while Allman also had a solid night batting three-for-four with an RBI as well.
Brian Bruxvoort came in to relieve Wolf and picked up right where he left off, facing seven batters in his two innings of service and easily wrapping up the game for the Brigade allowing only one hit and recording a strikeout.