Bobby Klein returned some sense of normalcy to the Lake Braddock baseball team’s hitting charts, Brian Derner, two days removed from throwing 30 pitches during a 9-1 win over Centreville on Monday, tossed 6 2/3 scoreless innings and the Bruins became the first local team to beat Westfield this season, handing the Bulldogs a 3-0 loss Wednesday in the Northern Region semifinals at Robinson Secondary School.
Despite building a three-run lead, Lake Braddock had still not hit a ball out of the infield when Klein stepped to the plate in the top of the sixth inning, but the Bruins had scored once in the first and twice in the third.
“I’ll take ‘em any way I can,” said Lake Braddock coach Jody Rutherford.
Klein’s double in the sixth off of Westfield’s Danny Thorpe was merely a formality; however, it was odd enough to ask the question of how exactly Lake Braddock scored its runs.
In the first, Michael Nebrich reached on the first of Westfield shortstop Ryan Williams’ two errors and Ryan Lindemuth walked. After a 4-6-3 double play put Nebrich at third with two outs, Klein reached base on Williams’ second error, which scored Nebrich.
With a walk to start the third, Nebrich went to second on Lindemuth’s drag bunt down the third-base line. No. 3 hitter Kenny Towns struck out and Klein, after an errant pick-off attempt gave the Bruins second and third, put down a suicide squeeze that scored Nebrich. During Andrew Weindinger’s at-bat, Lindemuth later scored on a wild pitch.
“We had noticed that we had gotten a few runs, and we were like, ‘Oh, we haven’t gotten a hit yet,’” Klein said. “But as long as we had the lead, it didn’t matter because we knew we were gonna hold them down.”
Brian Derner’s performance on the mound was likely what gave Klein that sort of confidence. In three Northern Region tournament games, Derner has now thrown 13 2/3 innings and appears fully recovered from a broken collarbone that delayed his season until spring break.
Although he’ll be unavailable to pitch when Lake Braddock (15-5) takes on West Springfield for the Northern Region title Friday night at Madison High School, Derner’s work in getting the Bruins to this point has been remarkable all by itself.
After allowing two hits during the first inning, Derner settled in and loosened up. He allowed only two hits the rest of the way, as Westfield’s biggest rally didn’t come until the bottom of the seventh inning when Lindemuth was called on to face Cole McInfurff. But Lindemuth induced a deep flyout to right field, sealing the win.
In all, Derner threw 108 pitches, 77 for strikes. He issued three walks and struck out six.
“I started to loosen up a bit, but I know that if I stick to my mechanics instead of trying to pump it in there, I’ll throw it faster than just trying to overpower everyone,” said Derner, who’ll pitch next spring at George Washington University.
Lake Braddock will now play in its third region title game in the past four years. Last year at Yorktown High School, the Bruins earned a 9-6 win over Chantilly, scoring three runs on Shane Halley’s wind-blown pop-up to second. This year, they’ll face rival West Springfield, which posted a nine-inning 2-1 win over Chantilly.
Despite a slow start to the season, an upset of Westfield and a healthy Derner have both emphasized the point that Lake Braddock is now rounding into the same form as last year’s squad.
“We had seen some pretty good teams,” Rutherford said. “I had confidence that we could keep on preparing ourselves, and by the end of the year be ready to compete at this level.”