BROOKVILLE — Finishing off a challenging stretch of three games in three days, the Brookville Raiders baseball team came out of it with a 2-1 record.
Thursday at McKinley Field, the Raiders rode a strong outing from junior right-hander Aaron Park in an 8-3 win over visiting DuBois Central Catholic.
The Raiders’ week started with a 22-12 loss at Clearfield before they rebounded with an 8-7 win at St. Marys Wednesday. They improved to 4-3 with their second win over the Cardinals.
“Tuesday was rough,” Raiders head coach Nathan Bonfardine said. “We hit the ball and that’s what generated our bats the last two games, too. Clearfield is a good ballclub and they tacked one on us pretty good and we had six errors … We’ve been tearing the cover off the ball the past three games and hopefully that carries into next week.
Park’s five-inning outing keyed the Raiders as he struck out eight and scattered five hits with no walks. The lone run he gave up was unearned after two infield errors in the first inning led to Brandon Walker scoring.
Jace Miner threw the final two innings to close things out.
“Aaron threw great and hat’s off to Jace to come in and finish it out,” Bonfardine said.
The Raiders took the lead for good with two runs in the second inning. Hunter Roney and Brady Caylor walked to start the inning off Cardinals starter Cole Sansom. Tanner LaBenne bunted them both up 90 feet and back-to-back singles by Chase Palmer and Cole LaBenne drove Roney and Caylor home.
In the fourth, the Raiders sent 10 batters to the plate and scored four runs, three of them off Sansom. Tanner LaBenne reached on a bad-hop single past second baseman Damon Foster, Palmer walked and Cole LaBenne singled in Tanner LaBenne. After Dane Lyle flew out, Sansom walked Seth Dunkle to load the bases and left the mound in favor of Dom Torretti.
“What caught up with Cole was the leadoff runner getting on in all but one of his innings. He didn’t have his best stuff and wasn’t as sharp or crisp, but he battled,” said Cardinals head coach Adam Fox. “He’s a 15-year-old freshman battling a pretty decent lineup. Any time you throw a kid into a situation like that, he’s only going to get better. It was a good challenge for him and he did a great job. With his preparation and his work, he’s going to be fine.”
Sansom gave up five hits and walked five while striking out three in 3 1/3 innings with two of his five runs surrendered going unearned.
The Raiders pushed home three more runs after Torretti entered the game. Jace Miner reached on a bases-loaded infield error, Cole LaBenne scored on Park’s forceout and after a walk to Roney, Caylor’s bases-loaded walk pushed home Miner.
Two more Cardinals errors in the fifth after two outs allowed the Raiders to score their final two runs. Cole LaBenne was hit by a pitch with one out, Lyle walked and after a Dunkle flyout, Miner and Park reached on errors.
The Raiders and Cardinals each had six hits, but Bonfardine liked his team’s approach at the plate, drawing eight walks and forcing Central to make the plays defensive, which it didn’t as five of the eight Raiders runs were unearned.
“We had quality at bats and put the ball in play and made them earn the out,” Bonfardine said. “That’s been one of our things we’ve talked about, being aggressive but selective. I’m excited what happened this week.”
While Torretti was helping the Cardinals pitching staff get through the week by throwing the final 3 2/3 innings in relief of Sansom, he also drove in the team’s other two runs with a two-run homer over the left-field fence with one out in the top of the sixth.
“He’s been a battler for us,” Fox said. “I’m always on him and he takes it so well. Whatever you ask him to do, he does it. He stayed on the fastball and was rewarded for it. He gutted out some innings for us today and we needed it to get ready for Monday.”
The Cardinals host Philipsburg-Osceola Monday, looking to rebound against a usually strong Mounties program.
“Today, the difference was Brookville made the plays and beat us on the base-running side and defensive side of things,” Fox said. “I challenged the guys before the game where we have to focus and show up every day and the little things are what beat us — the bunt defense and some mental errors. The physical errors are going to happen.”
The Raiders, meanwhile, are off until next Wednesday’s home game with DuBois. It’s a well-earned break for a team that grinded out two out of three wins in as many days.
“Especially with the caliber of the teams we faced,” Bonfardine agreed. “That’s three of the best teams we’ll see all year, but we have to continue what we’ve done here and keep being aggressive at the plate.”