As Broadneck’s Michael Thomas toed the rubber on the mound Monday, his pitch count steadily increasing and the Bruins’ lead slowly diminishing in the sixth inning against No. 3 South River, the senior right-hander found it hard to stay positive.
With the Bruins hanging on to a one-run lead, odd bounces of the ball resulted in two Seahawk hits, placing runners at second and third with two outs and leaving Thomas to wonder if the final score would ultimately take a similar turn in South River’s favor.
Following a pep talk from his infield teammates, Thomas clamped down, retiring three of the final five batters he faced to secure Broadneck’s 5-4 win at home in Annapolis. The Bruins, who upset No. 9 Arundel on Friday, have defeated consecutive ranked opponents in Anne Arundel County play.
“I was getting a little shaken up with them coming back and all the noise they were making, but my teammates picked me up,” said Thomas, who struck out three during a complete-game effort. “They said they had my back and after that, I just went all-out to make sure we sealed the win.”
Thomas’s confidence in Broadneck’s defense stemmed from more than just encouraging words. The Bruins (5-2, 3-2 Anne Arundel) turned critical double plays in the first and fourth innings to thwart a South River squad that racked up 11 hits but left seven runners on base. In the fifth frame, Bruins center fielder Connor Joyce punctuated a strong performance with a diving catch that ended the frame and stranded two Seahawk runners in scoring position.
“I wasn’t sure if I could get it at first but as I chased it down and got under it, I saw I could make an attempt at getting the catch and I did,” said Joyce. “The game came down to us capitalizing more in pressure situations and not wasting opportunities out there.”
Joyce went 2 for 2 and scored the first three runs for the Bruins before Garrett Hansen and Tom Dyson hit RBI doubles off South River’s Craig Sheridan (three strikeouts and four hits in five innings pitched) to give Broadneck a 5-0 lead in the fifth inning.
But the Seahawks (6-1, 4-1) made it a game in the sixth. Conner Cox’s RBI single sparked South River to four runs in the inning, with the final run coming on a fielding error.
As the South River dugout and crowd cheered in hopes of rallying the Seahawks, the Bruins gathered for a brief huddle at the mound, quietly yet effectively exhorting one another.
With runners at second and third, Thomas forced Kyle Canavan to fly out to right field for the third out. Then in the seventh, after Gabe Vertucci led off with a single, Thomas induced a fielder’s choice and struck out a batter before getting a grounder to second to secure the Bruins’ second straight win.
“We made a couple mistakes there late so we just reminded the guys to play fundamental baseball on defense,” Bruins Coach Jeff Herrick said. “Between our defense and Michael’s pitching in some tough spots, we were able to pull out the win.”