Yellowjackets ride arm of Brochu to 2-1 win over Thomaston in season opener in Winsted.
The Gilbert Yellowjackets opened their 2012 campaign with a 2-1 win over Thomaston at a wind blown Walker Field on Wednesday afternoon. Brochu (pitching to Golden Bear Klye Juisto) pitched a complete game 4-hitter with 10 K's.
WINSTED: If you wanted to see some good old fashioned pitching and a Wrigley Field wind kind of contest, the place to be Wednesday afternoon was at Walker Field in Winsted.
Three of the top players in the Berkshire League were on display and each had a hand in the games outcome, won by the Gilbert, 2-1 over visiting Thomaston.
It was bound to be a pitchers day, what with the wind making a nice spring day in Torrington a sweatshirt and jacket afternoon just 10 miles up Route 8.
Austin Brochu started for the Yellowjackets. Brochu has been on a lot of college radars of late, several Connecticut Universities (Southern and Central) have expressed interest in the senior who is coming of a dominant winter on the basketball court.
The ’Jackets ace did not disappoint, allowing just an unearned run on four hits while going the distance with 10 strikeouts.
Not that he wasn’t challenged. In the top of the first a slicing liner to right by the games second hitter, Bears starter Pat O’Neill, got caught in the jet stream and curled away from the Gilbert right fielder at an alarming rate and fell for in for an eventual triple.
Brochu bore down to get the next two hitters and escaped trouble, something he would do several more times this afternoon.
O’Neill was just as strong in his first outing of the season, something head coach Bob McMahon has come accustomed to.
“That’s just what we expect out of Pat each time out. McMahon said.
O’Neill allowed just two base runners thru the first four innings, one on a walk, the other on an error.
He finished with an impressive 2-hit complete game that featured five strikeouts but was betrayed by his defense in the bottom of the fourth when the home team scored both their runs.
‘Jackets catcher Justin Morhardt has been getting his share of attention this spring for his bat and his skills behind the plate.
Seeing major league scouts at a Gilbert game has become the norm of late and on a couple of occasions, Morhardt showed why.
His scorching line drive single between short and third in the fourth started the rally that would score all the runs his battery mate would need.
Brochu reached on an error to put runners on first and second with no outs; a bunt single would load the bases setting up a potential big inning.
O’Neill showed his bulldog nature by inducing a double play which scored Morhardt and moved Brochu to third where he would score on an error for a 2-0 lead.
Before the Yellowjacket rally, Morhardt helped his mound mate out with his defensive skills on an attempted sacrifice.
After an O’Neill single and a hit batsmen got Brochu in a jam, Morhardt pounced on the bunt and got the lead runner at third without hesitation.
Brochu would walk the next batter but kept the visitors off the board with back to back strikeouts to end the threat.
“It’s just amazing how Austin can turn into Houdini out there sometimes.” Morhardt said. “He just throws what I call and isn’t afraid to throw any pitch at any time.”
On a short list of priorities for head coach Pat Cooke this year is improving the Yellowjackets defense and while Morhardt was sharp, third basemen Jon Marshall was razor sharp.
Marshall started a 5-4-3 twin killing that ended the third while flagging down anything that came in his direction the rest of the game.
With two on and two outs in the fifth, Marshall snared a smoked line drive by O’Neill that would have scored a run and extended the inning.
Brochu would pull out his bag of tricks again after putting runners on second and third with no outs in the top of the sixth with just the 2-0 lead.
Consecutive K’s, one on a nasty circle change, the second on a similar pitch that led to a called third strike, had Brochu an out away from escaping trouble but a fielding error at first allowed the only Thomaston run to score.
O’Neill finished strong, retiring the side in three of the final four innings but on this afternoon, Brochu and Morhardt had just a little more magic up their sleeves.