Garrett Payne didn’t have much to atone for himself. But he delivered some salvation for the rest of his teammates who were in danger of losing in the quarterfinals of the Class 3, Region C playoffs despite essentially outplaying Brookville for the first six innings.
Instead, Western escaped with a 3-2 victory over Brookville to put the Warriors one win away from a state tournament berth.
“Earlier in the season, we definitely wouldn’t have won this game,” Payne said. “We weren’t strong enough or tough enough.”
After a perfect storm of mental mistakes allowed the Bees to tied the game at 2-2 in the sixth, Western went to work. First Derek Domecq drew a walk, then Luke Tenuta also took a free base. In between those walks, Western had a fly out and a strikeout. That brought sophomore Garrett Payne to the plate with runners on first and second and two outs.
“The first foul ball off, I thought I had it, missed it,” Payne said. “The next one coming up I just put everything I had into it.”
He blasted that second pitch over the centerfielder’s head, good for an easy double and a huge win for the Warriors, who started slow this season but have come on strong of late winning 10 of their last 14 games before battling the Bees.
“We had some really good at bats in the seventh and the key to that is to put pressure on people,” said Western coach Skip Hudgins. “Once you get somebody on second base, pitching ain’t that easy and Garrett did a really nice job of barreling that up.”
Payne got the start and threw well through the first three innings, striking out three and allowing just the single run in the first when Jaycob Carwile knocked in Jared Glinski. With two on and no outs in the fourth, Western opted to give Domecq the chance to take over and it paid immediate dividends. He quickly picked off the runner at second, then induced a groundout and a fielder’s choice to squash the threat.
“That pick off is huge,” Hudgins said. “We’ve picked a lot of people off over the years and I always like to play somebody who hasn’t seen us much because they don’t really have a good book on some stuff that we do.”
Domecq struck out two and allowed just two hits in four innings of work.
“I knew Derek was going to come in and do what he does and that he was going to get us the win,” Payne said. “And he did.”
He pitched well enough that Western appeared set to walk out with a 2-1 victory during the seventh, but with two outs, Brookville’s Zack Thompson hit a hard-hit ball just to the right of first baseman Luke Tenuta corralled the ball and made a mad dash back toward the base, but even with a dive couldn’t get Thompson out. In the meantime, Brennan Abbott wheeled around third from second and sprinted home which was vacant because of a coverage miscommunication. Suddenly the game was deadlocked.
In the bottom of the first, Tenuta knocked in Wyatt Hull who’d reached on a single and Domecq who’d reached on a walk. Until Payne’s double, that was the entirety of the offense the Warriors managed for the game.
Now Western will face Turner Ashby, the region’s top seed, after the Knights escaped Monticello Tuesday night in an extra inning clash 10-8. Jack Masloff is set to get the start for the Warriors.