The Neil Keller Baseball Tournament at Brunswick High School ended with a flurry of offensive activity Monday evening.
Some three hours after Oakdale rallied to defeat Tuscarora, 8-7, with five runs in the bottom of the eighth inning of the consolation game, Middletown struck for six runs in the top of eighth inning to upend the host Railroaders, 10-4, to claim the tournament title for the second year in a row.
“It's big,” said Knights left fielder Jack Panther, who collected three hits, including a home run, and scored three runs. “We're coming off a couple of wins. We're starting to pick up steam. It's going to be fun to see how we play it out the rest of the year.”
Monday certainly played out well for the Knights (6-2) as the rallied for the win after watching a 4-2 lead slip away in the fifth inning on a two-run home run by Brunswick catcher Brett Strahin.
“Things got out of hand [in the eighth],” said Strahin, whose squad last won the tournament title in 2010. “Six runs is too hard to come back from in the last inning. It sucks. It cuts deep.”
Middletown's late-inning heroics began with back-to-back hits by Nick Rabat and Collin Delauter, who faked a bunt and then slashed the ball down the left field line to put two on base with no outs.
With one out, Chase Hoffman singled in a run with the infield drawn in to cut off a potential run at the plate. Austin Klingensmith then sent an attempted suicide squeeze bunt to pitcher Collin Nusbaum, but Nusbaum's throw was high, allowing Delauter to score.
After a Brunswick error allowed another run to score, Connor Myers sent a 3-ball, 2-strike pitch by reliever Gary Barrett over the fence in left-center field for the final six-run victory. It was Middletown's sixth win in a row following two consecutive losses to open the 2012 campaign.
“I got that 3-2 fastball down the middle and I just took it to left-center field,” Myers said. “It was the best feeling ever. I hit it right on the sweet spot. It turned out nice for the team.
“We've been hitting pretty well [during the win streak]. It's just a good feeling in our dugout and in practices.”
Middletown, which defeated Oakdale, 20-1, in the semifinals on Saturday, opened a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning against Brunswick on a single by Rabat following a double by Panther. Brunswick rallied to take a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the first on a bunt single, two walks, a run-scoring ground out and an error.
The Knights responded with two runs in the third when Panther stole home on a failed suicide squeeze bunt and a bases-loaded walk by Rabat that made it 3-2. Middletown added another run in the fifth as Panther hit a solo homer to make it 4-2.
In the consolation game, Oakdale (2-6) surrendered four runs in the top of the eighth inning to Tuscarora but responded with five runs in the bottom half of the inning, including a two-run double by Nick Stedman to end the game.
Brunswick defeated Tuscarora, 8-4, during Saturday's semifinals.
Middletown 10, Brunswick 4
Middletown (6-2) 1 0 2 0 1 0 0 6 — 10 9 1
Brunswick (7-2) 2 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 — 4 6 2
WP — Colson Kirchner. LP — Tyler Wigfield. 2B: Middletown Jack Panther; Brunswick Collin Nusbaum. HR: Middletown Jack Panther, Connor Myers; Brunswick Brett Strahin. RBI: Middletown Connor Myers 3, Nick Rabat 2, Jack Panther, Chase Hoffman, Austin Klingensmith; Brunswick Brett Strahin 2, Dylan Brown.