Jeremy Christian singled in the game-winner in the bottom of the ninth to lift the No. 9 Tyler Junior College Apaches to a 2-1 victory over Brookhaven College Friday night at Mike Carter Field.
The Apaches (32-18) now lead the best-of-three Metro Athletic Conference play-in series 1-0 over Brookhaven (21-29). Game 2 is scheduled for 1 p.m. today at Mike Carter Field. If a third game is needed, it will follow the conclusion of the second game.
The winner of this series will advance to the District C Tournament, scheduled for May 11-13 at Mike Carter Field.
With the scored tied 1-1, the Apaches came through in the ninth.
With one out, Hunter Sutton was hit by a pitch. Ron Reemts pinch-ran for him and on the next pitch, Jeremy Christian hit a high fly ball to left field, and Brookhaven’s Ross Higier completely lost sight of the ball. The ball dropped in fair territory, and Reemts sped all the way home from first base before Brookhaven could get the ball back to the infield.
“That’s just baseball,” Apaches coach Doug Wren said. “That’s the only way I can describe it.”
Tyler sophomore Cody Ellerbee went the distance on the mound, striking out seven and did not walk a batter until the ninth. Ellerbee gave up five hits and one unearned run, and got the win.
“I can’t say enough about Cody,” Wren said. “He’s kept us in every single game he’s pitched this season. Even when he doesn’t have his best stuff, he can still compete and get guys out. He did an unbelievable job for us.”
Tyler was led at the plate by Nico Moran’s 3 for 4 night with an RBI, and Tyler Ernest who was also 3 for 4. Christian was 2 for 4 with the game-winning RBI.
Brookhaven’s A.J. Helms went 7 2-3 innings and allowed nine hits and one earned run. Nathan Goetz entered in relief and took the loss, giving up two hits and an earned run in two-thirds of an inning.
“It doesn’t matter what our record is or where we’re ranked nationally, baseball’s the great equalizer,” Wren said. “At this point, you’re not going to blow anyone out. Both pitchers were locked in and getting people out, and you had to dig in and work hard for everything.”
Brookhaven took the lead in the top of the third, with Adonys Wright singling his way on base, then reaching third on a two-base error by Apaches third baseman Christian on a ball hit by Jeffrey Sealy. After Christian made a leaping grab of a line drive for the second out, Tyler Edwards singled to left to score Wright. Sealy was thrown out at home to end the inning with a 1-0 Brookhaven lead.
Brookhaven got a lead-off double in the top of the fifth, with Clayton Haltom knocking the first pitch to the left field wall. Wright bunted him to third, but Sealy hit a hard shot at third, and Christian snagged the ball, then caught Haltom in a rundown. Ellerbee induced a groundout back to the mound, and the inning ended with no further damage.
Tyler tied the game in the bottom of the fifth. With two outs, Connor Lewis singled to right. Moran followed with a bloop to right field, which Sealy dove for and missed. Lewis scored on the triple to tie the game at 1-1.
SMOKE SIGNALS: Tickets to Saturday’s ballgame is $3 for adults and students are admitted free with an ID. … The winner of the District C Tournament advances to the NJCAA Division III World Series, which is scheduled for May 19-25, also at Mike Carter. The Apaches won the national title in 2007 and were runners-up in 2010.