Brookstone freshman right-hander Parker James came into crucial situations in both ends of Friday's doubleheader at Illges Field and shut down Metter to earn a pair of wins in the Cougars' opening-round sweep of the visiting Tigers. With the wins, Brookstone (21-7) advanced in the playoffs, while Metter ended its season at 13-13.
"Parker is battle-tested this year, and he just has that demeanor about him," said Cougar coach Vince Massey. "He came into a game early in the season against the No. 1 team in the state with the bases loaded and no one out and got out of it without any runs scoring, so we knew he was capable of this."
James entered Game 1 in the eighth inning with the score 1-1 and a runner aboard. He got a comebacker for the second out and another groundout to end the threat and allowed just two base runners after that to pick up the win. He pitched 2 2-3 innings and did not allow a hit. The only runners came on a walk in the 10th inning and his throwing error in the 11th. He had one strikeout.
The Cougars got a run in the first inning on a sacrifice fly by Drew Lingo that scored Matt Jones, who led off the game with a double. Metter tied the game in the fifth off Brookstone starter Max Williams as Keigan Williams singled home pinch-runner Skyler Smith. Two one-out walks by Williams set up the scoring opportunity.
Aside from those two innings, the two lefty starters -- Williams and Metter's Tracey Padgett -- were in complete control. Williams went 8 1-3 innings and allowed six hits and four walks with two strikeouts. Padgett pitched 10 innings, allowing five hits and three walks with 12 strikeouts.
Brookstone pushed across the winner in the 11th on a little-used but often-practiced play. After a two-out single by Tim Kennedy, Lingo was hit by a pitch. An errant pick-off attempt at second put runners at the corners. Lingo took off on an early steal, and relief pitcher Clay Crawford hitched before stepping off the rubber, resulting in a balk call and the winning run scoring for the Cougars.
"We have worked on that play all year and I know the guys wondered why we worked on it and never used it. Usually, when you are able to pull it out and use it, it can win you a game, and it did today," Massey said.
In Game 2, Brookstone jumped out to a 4-0 lead behind starter Jordan Waddell. Keith Pridgen had RBI singles in the second and fifth innings for two of the runs, Austin Pair singled home another in the third, and Mark McVay plated another on a groundout.
Metter came charging back, scoring a single run in the third on Bland Tucker's RBI single and three more runs in the fifth. James McManus had the big blow in the fifth, a two-run double to left-center. Jacob Weidencamp plated the other run as he was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.
James entered the game in the fifth after Metter had scored two of its runs. He came in with the bases loaded and one out. He hit Weidencamp to force in a run but then got two straight groundballs to quell the threat. He allowed just one hit while retiring eight of the nine hitters he faced. He had two strikeouts, including the final out as he got Weidencamp to end the game.
The Cougars answered immediately in the top of the sixth. Jones and Kennedy had back-to-back doubles to regain the lead, and another run scored as Lingo's deep fly ball was misplayed in left. After Hunter Greene plated a run with a fielder's choice, Duncan Fletcher delivered the knock-out punch, launching a three-run homer to left. That gave Brookstone a 9-4 lead.
"Those two hits to start the inning were big, because it gave us the momentum back. I was proud of the way they responded," Massey said.
Brookstone will play Wednesday at the Charlton County-Baconton Charter winner.
Friday at Brookstone
Metter 000 010 000 00--1 6 0
Brookstone 100 000 000 01--2 6 2
WP--Parker James (n/a). LP- Clay Crawford (n/a). Leading hitters-- BHS: Matt Jones 1-5, 2b, run; Tim Kennedy 1-5, run; Drew Lingo 1-2, BB, HBP, SF, 2 SB, RBI; Duncan Fletcher 1-4, 2B; RBI. Metter-- Keigan Williams 2-4, BB. Records: Brookstone 20-7; Metter 13-12.
Brookstone 011 025 0--9 10 2
Metter 001 030 0--4 7 1
WP-- Parker James (n/a). LP-- Clay Crawford (n/a). Leading hitters-- BHS: Matt Jones 1-5, 2b, run; Tim Kennedy 1-3, 2 runs, 2B, RBI; Austin Pair 3-4, 2 runs, RBI, SB; Duncan Fletcher 2-4, HR; 2 runs, 3 RBI; Keith Pridgen 2-4, 2 RBI. Metter: Keigan Williams 2-4; James McManus 2-4, 2b, 2 runs, 2 RBI. Records: Brookstone 21-7; Metter 13-13. Next Game: Brookstone at Charlton Co. - Baconton Charter winner.