Homewood rallies past Briarwood

Briarwood Christian pitcher Cleveland Milstead threw two and two-thirds innings and allowed one run on three hits in the Lions' 10-9 game three loss to Homewood April 27. (Reporter photo/Mickel Ponthieux)

Briarwood Christian pitcher Cleveland Milstead threw two and two-thirds innings and allowed one run on three hits in the Lions’ 10-9 game three loss to Homewood April 27. (Reporter photo/Mickel Ponthieux)

By MICKEL PONTHIEUX / Sports Reporter

HOMEWOOD – The Briarwood Christian Lions used an early lead to win game one of their Class 5A second round playoff series against Homewood, but the Patriots rallied in the sixth inning of game two and the seventh of game three to end the Lions’ season April 27.

“It was three games were everyone battled and it came down to the team with the last at-bat finally punched one through and won the series,” said Briarwood head coach Steve Renfroe. “I’m proud of our guys.”

Briarwood (17-17) scored a pair of runs in the first and second innings to take a 4-0 lead in game one April 26. The Lions added a run in the fourth for a 5-0 advantage after the fourth.

Homewood answered in the fifth with four runs on three hits, but Briarwood held on for the 5-4 game one victory.

Tanner Cunningham pitched four innings in the win and allowed a run on four hits with a strikeout and three walks. Daniel Robert went 1-for-1 with a double and three walks while Cunningham finished 2-for-4 with an RBI in the win.

The Lions held a 3-run lead through five innings in game two, but Homewood responded with four runs in the sixth for a 7-6 game two win to force a decisive game three.

Briarwood took a 3-0 lead in the first when Ethan Simmons and Chandler Wilkins each had RBI singles. The Patriots battled back to tie the game in the fourth, but Briarwood regained the lead in the fifth.

Robert led off the fifth with a triple to centerfield and scored when Cunningham reached on a Patriot error. Simmons and Wilkins each followed with RBI doubles to give the Lions a 6-3 advantage.

Homewood answered with four runs on two hits in the top of the sixth to seal the 7-6 game two victory.

Briarwood trailed 5-3 through three innings in game three, but responded in the fourth and fifth innings to take the lead. The Lions scored a pair of runs on the fourth led by an RBI single by Simmons to tie the game 5-5. The Lions then added four runs in the fifth led by a 2-run single by Brayden Housel to take a 9-5 advantage.

Homewood quickly evened the score in the bottom of the fifth when Jordan Acton hit a 3-run home run to left field that tied the game 9-9.

“We just didn’t have an answer when we scored to stop them,” Renfroe said.

The Lions loaded the bases in the top of the seventh with two walks and hit batter, but were unable to push the go-ahead run across to give the Patriots a chance at a walk-off win.

Homewood’s Jack Smalley led off the bottom of the seventh with a single to center and scored a sacrifice fly to give the Patriots the 10-9 game three victory and the series win.

Cleveland Milstead took the loss for Briarwood while allowing a run on three hits in two and a third innings of work. Housel led the Lions with a 3-for-4 effort with two RBIs. Wilkins finished 1-for-3 with two RBIs.

Renfroe said that looking back on the season, he his proud of his 2013 ball club featuring seven seniors.

“If you look at the record, people will misunderstand what they did,” Renfroe said. “They stood up to the challenge and were one pitch away probably from hosting in the final eight.”