Bear River senior first baseman Brandon Donley said he couldn’t remember the last time he had a walk-off hit.
After Friday’s baseball game against Pioneer Valley League rival Placer, there’s little doubt he will forget this one.
With one-out in the bottom of the seventh inning, the game-winning run on third and the contest knotted at five, the bruting Bruin smoked a line drive over the center fielder’s head and David Chorjel trotted in from third to win the game.
“I knew he was going to throw me something fat first pitch because I was watching him from the dugout,” Donley said. “I was just sitting on that first pitch and I saw it right there in the middle of the plate and I just swung.”
The RBI single by Donley completed an impressive comeback by Bear River (4-2, 3-0 PVL), who had trailed by five runs as late as the fourth inning. Donley finished the game 2-for-3 with a pair of singles, the game winning RBI and a walk. He also made an impressive play at first, coming off the base for an errant throw to make the catch and get the runner with a swipe tag.
But, even when trailing 5-0 in the fourth there was no hint of quit coming from the Bear River dugout, head coach Dave Brown said.
“What we talked to them about was that we were still in this game,” Brown said. “We were down five, and we said, ‘fellas just keep chipping away, we can get it down.’ We’ve been swinging the bats really well the last few weeks. We really pressed the BP yesterday.”
The Hillmen (1-4, 1-2 PVL) got the scoring started in the second inning when multiple Bruin errors and an RBI single by Placer’s Chip Mitchell put three runs on the board.
Placer added two more in the fourth when on an RBI groundout by Mitchell, and an RBI single from Luis Borrello.
The Bruins answered in their half of the fourth when sophomore shortstop Bear Belding reached on an error, then Donley reached with a single and a Matt Lopez single loaded the bases. An RBI walk by Dayton Anderson scored Belding and Michael Scudero singled in Donley to make it 5-2.
The Bruins remained hot in the fifth with a leadoff single by Tyler Toft. Belding reached on an infield single. Both runners advanced one base on a passed ball before Chorjel brought them both home with a two-RBI double to the right center field gap. Chorjel finished the day 2-for-4 with two doubles and three RBIs.
Placer pitcher Tyler Gums had been dominant in the game prior to the fourth inning, but was chased after five innings. Gums did strike out eight in the game.
“His slider was really keeping us off balance,” Brown said of Gums. “But, we figured if we could wear them down, foul off a couple pitches, force him to get deep into counts, we felt we could pull it out.”
While the Bear River bats were heating up, the Placer bats went cold.
Scudero replaced Bear River starting pitcher Jake Sypnicki in the fourth and completely shutdown the Placer lineup, throwing three innings, allowing one hit, striking out four and collecting the win.
“Michael Scudero is a steely eyed stud,” Brown said. “That kid has been getting it done. He has two victories this week, he’s been getting it done at the plate, getting it done on the mound, getting it done for us at third base.”
Heading into the seventh inning the Bruins trailed 5-4, but second baseman Tyler Toft, who went 2-for-3 with a run scored, was hit by a pitch to put a runner on base. Belding then lined out to left field. Chorjel laced another gaper, this time to left center that just got over the outfielders glove for another RBI double. Chorjel advanced to third on a bad throw and set the stage for Donley’s heroic game winner.
“I knew we had it in us,” Donley said. “This teams composition is so good, even when we get down. We may get a little down but we always pick each other up. We always have it in us to come back.”
The victory keeps the Bruins at the top of the PVL standings alongside Colfax.
“I cant tell you how proud I am of these guys,” Brown said. “Every single one of them contributed in this win today.”
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.