Brookfield getting even
Warriors rally from being run-ruled by Newton Falls
NEWTON FALLS — With the game on the line and things suddenly unraveling for Brookfield, first-year Warriors coach David DeJoy wasn’t sure what to expect.
Just eight games into his first season, DeJoy is still figuring out what kind of team he inherited.
He found out a lot Wednesday.
The Warriors held on for a 6-5 victory in a back-and-forth All-American Conference, Blue Tier battle with Newton Falls, a team that run-ruled them just two days earlier.
“It tells me that we have it in us,” said DeJoy of what the victory meant to him. “If we believe in ourselves, believe in one another, and we play hard and don’t give up, we can play like we did today.”
The game was a pitchers’ duel for five innings, but Brookfield (3-5, 1-5) put together a four-run sixth inning to take a 5-2 lead. Bailey Drapola then crushed a solo home run — her fourth of the year — to make it 6-2 going into the bottom of the seventh inning.
Newton Falls (3-4, 1-3) wasn’t ready to lay down. A single and a hit by pitch were sandwiched between a strikeout, and freshman Emily Knight struck some fear into Brookfield with a three-run shot that just cleared the left-field fence. That made the score, 6-5, and put some doubt into the minds of the Warriors.
“I was thinking, ‘They’re down by one, and there’s one out,’ “ recalled Brookfield center fielder Morgan McNamara. ” ‘We’ve just got to take it easy, not overthink it.’ “
Warriors pitcher Gabby Schiska scooped up a slow roller by the No. 3 hitter and fired it to first for the second out, and she then struck out the clean-up hitter to end the game. Schiska rebounded from a tough outing against the Tigers on Monday, twirling a complete game and allowing six hits. She struck out four and didn’t walk a batter.
“She pitched our four hitter really well tonight,” Newton Falls coach Bill Pelyak said. “She kept her off balance all night, and she did that with all our hitters. It took us six innings to really start stinging the ball. When you’ve got the caliber shortstop they got make a few errors, and (we) can’t win the game, your pitcher has pitched well for you.”
Drapola, the Warriors shortstop, had an uncharacteristically bad day in the field with three errors. The University of Akron recruit made up for it with her bat though.
She was a triple shy of the cycle, with a single, a double, a home run and two runs scored. Her solo blast to right-center field in the sixth ended up being the difference.
“I don’t know what we’d do without Bailey,” said McNamara, who made several great plays in center field, including a diving, head-first snag that saved a run in the second inning. “A hit like (Drapola’s home run), we were all so excited after that. That’s when our attitude changed.”
McNamara did plenty of damage at the plate, too.
The senior finished 2-for-3 and smacked a two-run single down the left-field line in the four-run sixth inning. Autumn Sirochman also had a two-run base hit in the inning. Overall, the Warriors had five of their 10 hits in the sixth and all nine hitters came to the plate.
“We needed that inning,” DeJoy said. “They just took the lead on us, 2-1, and it was an opportunity for us to either get back in it and make a difference or fold up, and we didn’t fold up today. We came through and hit.”
Both teams have endured tough starts to the season.
Each played Champion, the back-to-back Division III state champion, twice in the early going. The Tigers also lost to unbeaten Ursuline, while Brookfield dropped two close games to Crestview.
Newton Falls starts five freshmen, so Pelyak understands there are going to be ups and downs during the season.
“Battling through those tough times is a still a work in progress,” Pelyak said. “… We had 14 hits on Monday (against Brookfield) and win 11-1 and come back Wednesday and can’t hit her. That’s mental toughness from the five freshmen that I’m starting, along with a couple sophomores and some seniors. We’re just not mentally ready to go through the grind of a season yet. We’re getting there, but we’re not ready yet. But at the end of the game, we fought like heck.”
Both teams are learning as they go in 2019.