Demons come back to defeat Lakeshore

Published 8:49 am Friday, March 30, 2018

Franklinton came back from a 3-0 deficit to defeat Lakeshore, 5-4, at home Tuesday, and Nate Bracey accomplished the rare feat of recording the game-winning hit and being the winning pitcher.
Bracey started the game in centerfield, but took the mound to begin the fourth inning with his team trailing 3-1. He worked the final four innings in relief, allowing one run on three hits with no strikeouts and a walk.
“I was just trying to really calm myself, calm my team down,” Bracey said. “It was a big game. We’ve been in this situation before. I know my team. I know my team’s got my back. I didn’t get many strikeouts, but they really (played) behind me this whole game and I was proud of them.”
At the plate, Bracey went 1-for-2 with a sacrifice bunt and two runs batted in.
The one hit was a big one.
Franklinton had trimmed the lead to 4-3 in the fifth inning when Bracey stepped up to the plate, with runners at second and third and two outs.
Bracey delivered.
He hit a pitch into right field for a base hit. J.P. Magee scored from third to tie the game. Behind him was Wyatt Verret, who was carrying the go-ahead run. He scored and the Demons were up, 5-4.
“He hadn’t been throwing me breaking balls, so I was really focusing on fastball and he threw me one — a fastball high-and-in — and I just tried to stay on it and hit the ball up the middle,” Bracey said.
Following the go-ahead and eventual winning hit, Bracey went back out to the mound and finished the game, throwing two more scoreless innings and retiring six of the final seven batters he faced. The only base runner he allowed during the last two innings was an infield hit.
“Nate works hard,” Franklinton coach Jeff Tageant said. “Nate has been throwing bullpens with my son Clay Tageant all summer, all fall, just working. (Pitching coach) Drew Brooks does a great job of calling pitches. Nate is in the weight room. Him and his little brother (Jake) are up here all of the time and he deserves all of the success he’s getting. He’s bought into what we’re doing in the weight room, in the bullpen, at the plate and once he gets his confidence like he should, he’s going to be a phenomenal player.”
Lakeshore broke a scoreless tie with three runs in the third inning to take a 3-0 lead.
Tyler Gegenheimer began the frame with a walk and he moved to second on Chris Olivier’s sacrifice bunt, and to third on a wild pitch. Jacob Bernard walked and stole second.
With Christian Westcott batting, Gegenheimer scored on a wild pitch and a throwing error allowed Bernard to score, giving Lakeshore a 2-0 lead. Westcott walked, and later in the inning, courtesy runner Blake Perrin tallied the third run on an RBI single by Devin Weilbacher.
Franklinton answered back with one run in the bottom of the third. Landon Keller reached on a fielder’s choice, as Jordan McKenzie, who walked, was forced out at second. Keller advanced to third on a throwing error from a pickoff attempt at first. Richard Berry reached on an RBI error, as the throw went to first. Keller scored on the play to make it 3-1.
Franklinton pulled to within one in the fourth. Trent Varnado singled, went to second on Bracey’s sacrifice bunt and scored when Raisean Hart came through with two outs by singling up the middle to make it a 3-2 game.
Lakeshore added one more in the fifth. Bernard was hit, went to second on a balk and scored on Westcott’s RBI single to left.
Franklinton trailed 4-2, but went in front for the first time in the bottom of the fifth.
With one out, Berry singled and went to second on a balk. Magee walked. Verret was next and he singled home Berry on a hit-and-run, trimming the lead back to one at 4-3. Varnado grounded out to short, but Magee and Verret both moved up. With two outs, Bracey came up big with the two-run single. The Demons had a 5-4 lead through five and never looked back.
Tageant was proud of his team’s two-out hitting to score runs, and praised the Demons’ base running.
“We were able to steal second base several times against a pretty good team, a pretty good arm out there,” Tageant said. “To get down 3-0 on one hit sort of dug us in a hole. One of the big things is when we came back in the bottom of the third after they scored three and we just put a simple one run on the board.
“We always preach, after runs, we have to answer back, and we were able to get that one run to answer back and that just let them know that we weren’t going to fold. For Nate to come in and shut the door against these guys, it was a very big win for us.”
Berry and Varnado singled and scored a run each. Magee walked and tallied a run. Verrett had a hit, an RBI and a run scored. Hart posted a hit and an RBI. Keller had a hit.
For Lakeshore, Bernard singled and scored two runs. Westcott had a single, an RBI and Perrin scored a run. Weilbacher singled twice and drove in a run. Gegenheimer tallied a run.
This was the District 8-4A opener for both teams. Franklinton improved to 11-6 overall while Lakeshore fell to 9-12-1.

Franklinton’s Richard Berry races home on Wyatt Verret’s RBI single in the fifth inning of Tuesday’s home game against Lakeshore.