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Defense carries Broncos past Lassiter

Photo by Brandon Brigman

Photo by Brandon Brigman

MARIETTA -- Five putouts is a busy night for any outfielder.

But for Trey Martin, his five were more than just work, they were highlights.

With two runners on base and two outs in the fourth, Martin made a diving snow-cone catch on sinking fly ball to shallow center, saving a sure two runs. Then in the sixth with a runner on base and one out, his speed allowed him to make an long run a bit shorter coming up with another sliding grab.

"I was worried when I hit the ground," Martin said of the diving catch.

Both out played huge in Brookwood's 4-2, series-clinching win over Lassiter in Game 3. The win puts the Broncos in the Class AAAAA quarterfinals against Newnan.

The thing about Martin is, he is not the biggest fan of diving.

"We can't get him to do it in practice," Brookwood coach Rick Howard said. "He can cover a lot of ground when he goes after it, no doubt."

"I like to save my body for the game," Martin said. "I had to dive because with a young pitcher on the mound I wanted him to know we had his back and not to worry."

Allen Tokarz is a junior to Martin's senior, but in just his fifth start of the season. The outs helped the young starter pick up his third win. The right-hander pitched six-plus innings, allowing two runs off eight hits with two walks.

"It was a tremendous effort on his part and he's been that way (since becoming a starter)," Howard said. "He's not flashy or anything, but he does a good job."

Lassiter starter Andrew McLarnon matched Tokarz through three scoreless innings that saw the teams combine to strand eight runners.

In the top half of the fourth, it looked like Lassiter would strike first when the first two Trojans reached on singles. But the two-out diving catch by Martin ended the inning, stranding two.

"That's what Trey can do out there," Howard said.

The offense answered with two runs in the bottom half, chasing Lassiter's McLarnon in the process. Two straight singles opened the inning and an RBI single by Trey Hagey ended McLarnon's outing. Hagey's hit was the only one of the game for the right fielder. The Broncos added their second run on a sacrifice by Brian McGrath to deep right field.

Nick Moore went 2-for-4 with a double and a run scored, Mike Gouge went 2-for-3 with an intentional walk and scored a run and designated hitter Zac Rhinehart walked twice and scored a run on a 1-for-2 night.

Lassiter hit the first of two solo home runs in the fifth inning when Jared Aarons took Tokarz to deep center field. Tokarz allowed a second home run to Andy Rief in the sixth.

"He was pretty beat up about (the first home run)," Howard said of Tokarz. "When you are in the state playoffs and facing a very good ball club, solo shots are going to happen."

And neither let Lassiter tie or take a lead.

In between solo home runs, the Broncos scored a pair. Reeves Blankenship's bases-loaded ground ball in the fifth skipped between the legs of the Trojans' shortstop and two runs to score on the error.

Brookwood tried to let Tokarz finish his game, but after he walked his first batter of the seventh, Howard turned to former starter-turned-closer Lucas Sims.

With a runner on base, Sims, who threw 37 pitches Wednesday, needed just 11 pitches to strike out the top of the Trojans order for the save.

"I didn't want him to have to throw too much bouncing back because, honestly, we haven't seen him do it," Howard said. "He stepped up. He threw the ball well."

The shortstop Sims began the year as a starter and swapped spots with Tokarz to bring stability to the Broncos' middle infield and his low 90s velocity works in late innings.

"We found the right fit," Howard said. "We couldn't find that guy to go to late in games. Obviously he's got the arm to do that. To be honest, he's done better in that role than I thought he would have."

This is the second series the Broncos have won on the second day and second with Tokarz on the mound. All the juggling of starters and relievers seems to be in balance.

"This is a character-type win," Howard said. "We are coming together as a team in terms of knowing we can count on each other. That somebody is going to step up."