McKINNEY – McKinney Boyd’s Jack Brinkley didn’t need a hit to make his presence felt all throughout Game 2 of the Broncos’ regional quarterfinal series against Allen.
Instead, it was Brinkley’s glove and arm that did the damage on Thursday, and in no moment bigger than the final out of a 2-1 victory over the Eagles to force Game 3 in the third-round series between District 9-6A rivals.
Boyd escaped with the one-run win despite some tense moments late, as Allen managed to load the bases with two outs in the top of the seventh inning. Needing just one out to prolong their season for at least another day, the Broncos ran into trouble after Allen’s Zack Hargrove belted an RBI single into left-center field that scored Devon Hodge to trim Boyd’s lead to 2-1.
Eagles leadoff hitter Sam Haigwood was hit by a pitch on the ensuing at-bat, loading the bags for Evan Anderson. With the tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position, Anderson did his part in ripping a shot to left-center field, but Brinkley opted for a season-saving gamble as he and center fielder Tyler Collins converged on the ball.
Brinkley not only avoided colliding with teammate, but successfully dove and caught the ball for the final out on an all-or-nothing defensive stop for the Broncos.
“When the ball is hit, I’m just sitting there and thinking, ‘Go get it. Go get it.’ [Brinkley] was fortunate to make that catch,” said Brooke Court, Boyd head coach. “That’s just two good teams battling it out.”
Brinkley’s defense reared its head more than once on Thursday. He foiled a third-inning liner by Hargrove on another diving stab, and later in the fifth inning fielded a Hargrove single and gunned down pinch-runner Luke Shepard at home plate to keep the Eagles off the scoreboard.
Boyd’s defensive effort complemented a near-complete game thrown by Jack Hagan, who held Allen hitless for the first 4.2 innings of Thursday’s contest and ultimately tossed 6.2 frames of one-run ball while striking out four.
“Jack has been good for us. We didn’t get him until late in the year and he’s just starting to get into the form of what he has been,” Court said. “That was only his fourth or fifth start of the year and he’s getting better and better each time out.”
Allen’s Nate Wodka nearly matched the Broncos’ hurler in pitching all six frames for the Eagles, limiting Boyd to just four hits and two runs alongside a quartet of strikeouts. Three of Wodka’s four punch-outs came in the bottom of the sixth inning despite loading the bases with no outs – fanning the next three Broncos faced.
“I think that was a big-time growing point for him,” said Paul Coe, Allen head coach. “He definitely grew up little bit there, loading the bases and then striking out the side.”
However, despite limiting the damage, it was a wild pitch by Wodka during that sequence that sailed well beyond catcher Joey Crisci and allowed Boyd’s Sam McGinnis, who doubled to lead off the frame, to score a run and up the Broncos’ lead to 2-0.
Boyd had initially seized command in the fourth inning after a two-out single by Dawson Goheen was bobbled by the Allen outfield and gave pinch-runner Kyle Walker enough time to scamper home all the way from first base and nudge the Broncos in front, 1-0.
Allen had opportunities to counter, putting its leadoff batter on base in each of the final four innings on Thursday, but Hagan and the Boyd defense didn’t budge. Chief among the Eagles’ missed chances was an interference call in the fifth inning that contributed to two outs after Allen put its first two runners on base.
“We had our opportunities but just didn’t execute. If we could have the way we wanted, it might have been a different game, but Jack pitched really well,” Coe said. “The interference call was a tough one, but it was probably the correct call.”
Hargrove belted two hits to pace the Eagles, while Boyd’s top three of Collins, McGinnis and Beau Brewer accounted for three of the Broncos’ four hits to help force a do-or-die Game 3, set for 7:30 p.m. Friday at McKinney North to determine who advances to the regional semifinals.
“I’m happy we get a Game 3. We’re not picking up the equipment yet,” Coe said.