By being the pitcher of record when the West Deptford High School baseball team took the lead on Overbrook, senior Brendan Glass officially earned the win.
He should have been credited with a save, as well.
Glass entered a tie game in the bottom of the fifth with runners on first and third and no outs. He proceeded to get two strikeouts and, after a walk, induced a fly out to center that ended the threat and fired up his teammates.
The Eagles would take the lead for good on a sacrifice fly by Ty Castellano as the team earned its season-high third-straight victory, 4-3.
“I felt like I needed to get that strikeout right away, and once I got the first one, I felt like I could get another one,” Glass said. “My curveball looked good and I was real confident throwing it.”
“He threw like a senior,” said West Deptford coach Mike Rucci. “He commanded the mound and threw strikes. He wanted it out there after he took the loss against them last time. It was great to see him rebound from that, get after it and get us out of a big jam.”
Freshman Isaiah Easterling had been cruising through three innings, as he mixed his impressive fastball with a late-breaking curve. However, after giving up three runs in the fourth inning, he allowed the first two batters to single in the fifth and was removed by Rucci.
The move paid off.
“He did his job,” said senior Tom Jakubowski. “You bring him in after a kid like Isaiah who can bring it a little bit, and it throws hitters off. It gets hitters off-balance, and he just deals.”
Jakubowski—who had his 100th career hit earlier in the game—got the fifth-inning rally going with possibly the shortest hit in his West Deptford career. The tall first baseman hit a slow dribbler that went just a couple feet up the third base line, but he busted it down the line to earn a leadoff single. A bunt base hit and a passed ball set up the sac fly from Castellano.
“After that, I felt like I could shut them down,” said Glass.
He did just that, finishing with five strikeouts in his three innings.
The three-game winning streak has allowed to Eagle to re-enter the playoff hunt at 6-9. If the playoffs started today, they would be an 11 seed in Group 2, but certainly a more dangerous one than they were a week ago.
“You can see it clicking, even in some of the tight ones we lost recently, that we were right there,” said Rucci. “This is a big week for us. If we can get on a roll, we can put ourselves in a decent position before the cut, which is tremendous after the start we had.
"To be in that position after the start we had is a testament to these guys' ability to keep fighting and handle adversity.”
With the playoff field having expanded to 16 teams in recent years, there is little doubt the Eagles will be in the playoffs later this month. However, the manager and players take pride in their performance and would like to do it the old-fashioned way and earn a .500 record by next Friday’s cutoff date.
“I think it would be good to get to .500 and get a better seed,” said Glass. “Last year we had a lower seed too, and we got the job done, so I feel like once we get to the playoffs we can turn it on."
“You don’t want to be a team that gets in as a 14 seed or 15 seed that gets in at 6-15,” Rucci said. "You want to try to get there the way you are supposed to get there, and if we play the way we can, there is a good chance we can get there that way.”
West Deptford will get a playoff reminder on Wednesday when it travels to play Haddonfield at the site where the Eagles won a South Jersey title last year.