The Brewer High School baseball team is a blend of youth and experience, with nearly as many sophomores and freshmen as juniors and seniors.
But the sixth-seeded Witches have maintained some momentum from last spring’s run to the Class B state championship. Coach Dana Corey’s club needed every ounce of that reserve during Thursday afternoon’s North regional quarterfinals to outlast third-ranked Old Town 4-2 in 13 innings.
“It was definitely a grind for sure,” said Levi Williamson, one of four seniors on the 13-player Brewer roster. “You had to stay in focus. The team had to stay together, and we couldn’t fall apart. But we got through it.”
The victory advances the Witches (13-5) to Saturday’s semifinals against the winner of Thursday night’s game between No. 2 Hermon and No. 7 Erskine Academy of South China.
Old Town, which had edged Brewer 2-1 during their lone regular-season meeting April 29, ends its season at 11-7.
“I’m glad the kids stay level and don’t get too high or too low,” Corey said. “If they would have, the emotions probably would have had it going the other way because there were a lot of twists and turns to the game, a lot of things happening.
“Old Town played great, all the pitchers pitched well, the starting pitchers were spot on. We just happened at the end to get the hits at the right time, and our defense made some pretty good plays.”
Brewer broke a scoreless tie on senior first baseman Zach Steiger’s two-run double off the right-center-field fence with two outs in the top of the 11th. Old Town re-tied the game in the bottom of the inning on Tanner Evans’ two-out, two-run double to center — with Brewer cutting down the potential winning run at the plate on the play to end the inning.
Brewer took the lead for good in the top of the 13th.
Leadoff hitter Kaleb Bryant popped a single to center and advanced into scoring position after a high throw to second base by the pitcher on Andrew Kiley’s sacrifice attempt.
That put runners on first and second, and Williamson loaded the bases with a sharp one-out single to right, his fourth hit of the game.
Steiger was hit by a 1-0 pitch to force home the go-ahead run, and Trevor Pearson followed with a sacrifice fly to center field to drive home Kiley and give the Witches a two-run lead.
Pearson, Brewer’s third pitcher of the game, retired Old Town in order in the bottom of the 13th to gain the pitching victory. The junior right-hander allowed just one hit during his 2 1/3-inning stint.
“They’ve been in tough situations, and a couple of times this year we haven’t come through in them,” Corey said, “but sometimes when you’re in those enough times your resiliency will kick in, and you’re able to make it through.”
While offense ultimately decided the game, this indeed was a pitching duel, largely between starters Williamson and Old Town left-hander Chris Albert, who both worked to the 110-pitch limit.
Albert struck out 10 while allowing four hits and two walks over 7 1/3 scoreless innings.
Williamson was even more efficient, working 9 1/3 innings before being replaced by Cody Graves after reaching the pitch limit.
Williamson allowed just three of Old Town’s five hits in the game while striking out five batters and walking two.
He, Graves and Pearson were backed by an errorless Brewer defense anchored by freshman shortstop Logan Levensalor that turned three double plays.
“[Brewer assistant coach Dennis] Kiah always preaches strikes, strikes, strikes,” Williamson said. “I knew they were a good hitting team. It was just a matter of me trusting my defense, and they played amazing.”