Sophomore righthander Brown put in five-plus innings as the Whites starter, striking out seven Maroons against two hits with a pair of runs. Only one of those scores was earned, and Brown walked a pair as he looked to be peaking here at the business end of fall camp.
“I’d say that was probably my best outing, the way I felt and the results,” Brown said. “My fastball was hitting spots, changeup was getting swings and misses, and the slider was good.”
The start wasn’t smooth, as the Maroons put runners on corners in their first inning. Brown stranded them with a called strikeout of Cody Walker. By the time he returned it was with a 2-0 lead, though for a moment 4-0 looked more likely. With bases loaded and one out White 1B Wes Rea lifted a deep drive that missed Maroon LF Cody Brown’s glove and skinned the inside wall for a two-run single rather than a grand slam. RF Demarcus Henderson and DH Daniel Garner scored on the safety.
Rea provided the first White runs and the last one too, with a RBI-single in the fifth inning to plate Henderson again. He went 2-of-3 at the plate officially though the ‘out’ was actually a reach-on-error, and walked in a fourth at-bat to make base every appearance. Rea was hitting fifth in the order this game.
Brown was able to operate with a multiple-run lead the rest of his stint. “The first inning I got out of it and I was just feeling it from then on,” he said. Feeling a bit chilly at times, too, as long offensive innings had him sitting longer. “I was in the dugout a while but you try to stay warm and go back out there and find it again.”
The Whites multiplied the advantage with a four-run second turn. Maroons starter John Marc Shelly walked DH Dylan Ingram to start that inning, and rookie C Gavin Collins bunted the runner along. Nine-hole batter CF Jacob Robson joined Ingram on the paths with a single, and order-topper LF Jake Vickerson made it 3-0 with a groundout.
Henderson singled up the box for another Whites RBI, before Garner netted the afternoon’s first extra-base knock with a double to leftfield scoring Henderson. 2B Brett Pirtle made it 5-0 with a run-scoring single of his own. Rookie 3B Reid Humphreys scored Robson with his off-the-glove double down the rightfield line in the third inning. The damage came off Maroons bullpen arms Jacob Billingsley, Tony Annello, and Lucas Laster.
Brown cruised into the top of the fourth when Maroons 3B Alex Detz, batting cleanup, reached and was driven in later by freshman 1B Brent Rooker. Brown was lifted after a leadoff walk in the sixth, with his pass of Heck counting. New C Zach Randolph scored Heck with a single, and before the inning ended Detz had come home on an infield hit legged-out by 2B Kyle Hann. The runs were charged to Whites LHP Glen Irby, as RHP Will Cox came in to throw the remaining two innings with three strikeouts.
The top half of the Whites order was a combined 6-of-12 batting with four RBI and five runs scored. It was all the support Brown required. “I felt good, it was kind of cold so I planned on throwing it inside and pounding the zone, just letting my ball work,” he said. Brown credited an adjustment in his changeup grip for improving his arsenal this fall, and is ready to show it again before the Series ends. “I’ve got to throw again Tuesday, I want to finish up fall strong and two good outings would be good.”
Game two is Friday at 5:00, with RHP Ben Bracewell starting for the Whites while CF/LHP C.T. Bradford will try to even the series up starting for the Maroons. And while there is definite entertainment value to this five-game fracas, both sides do want to win.
“We’re all one team, the other team was congratulating me so it’s fun,” Brown said. “But it’s still competition.”