STORY BY CHRIS LEE | PHOTOS BY DEB SCALLY
Brentwood pitcher Connor Smith was brilliant, throwing a complete game in the Bruins to a 6-1 win over Ravenwood in “The Battle of the Woods” at Brentwood High School on Monday evening.
First baseman Matthew Batts’s three-run double was the key hit in a six-run first, and third baseman Cade Granzow added a two-run double for the Bruins.
Smith was crisp from the beginning, throwing 93 pitches, scattering six hits while walking just one against seven strikeouts. He had command of three pitches—a two-seam fastball, a curve and a change-up—and set the tone with a pair of first-inning strikeouts.
“He kind of rolls out of bed settled in,” Brentwood coach Bill Moore joked afterwards.”He’s great. He’s awesome.”
“My fastball was working,” Smith said. “It was moving a lot today. My breaking ball, I could throw for strikes. That was my go-to pitch.”
Ravenwood didn’t muster much offensive outside of third baseman Zane Denton, who had three hits, including a double, and scored the Raptors’ only run in the sixth.
Meanwhile, Ravenwood pitchers Shane Craig and Jackson Sherrill combined to strike out 15 Bruins. But the Bruins’ first inning was a killer.
Brentwood’s Jack Rando led off the bottom of the first with a single to right, then, Craig’s pickoff throw went into right field and Rando got to third. Right fielder Karson Dreier walked, then, with two out, Granzow doubled to the alley in right to drive in both.
After DH Scott Collins singled, second baseman Aaron Walton lined a single to left for another. Then, Batts doubled to the left-center power alley to clear the bases and put the Bruins up, 6-0.
“It helped a lot,” Smith said of the first. “I was able to pitch to contact after that.”
Craig settled down after the first, and used a tailing fastball to strike out the side in the fourth after Rando reached on an error to lead off.
Sherrill moved over from first to start the fifth. While the senior allowed a pair of runners in each inning, he kept Brentwood off the scoreboard with the aid of four strikeouts.
But the Bruin lead was too big, and Smith was dealing. He retired the side in order in the second, fourth and fifth until Ravenwood briefly got to him in the sixth.
Denton doubled off the top of the wall in right-center to lead off the sixth. An error moved him over a base, and then Sherril’s sacrifice fly to center got him in.
Raptor left fielder Nick Raum added a one-out single, and a ground-out put two in scoring position. But Smith rebounded with a strikeout of right fielder Evans Lawson on a breaking ball away to get out of the inning.
”We left a couple of guys on base,” Ravenwood coach Chad Kirby said. “We’re right there with a hit or two in the right spot.”
The teams play at Ravenwood on Tuesday, but the Bruins will get to enjoy this one until then.
“We were playing sound baseball and approaching the game really well,” Moore said. “I was just happy with their effort and how they were locked in and ready to go. They were definitely enjoying the moment and in the moment, and that’s a big thing we talk about, being in the moment, and I thought they did a good job with it.”