Staff Photo: Jason Braverman The Brookwood team celebrates a homerun by Megan Litumbe during Thursday's game against Archer.
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SNELLVILLE -- With runners on first and second and nobody out, Brookwood's No. 9 hitter Daniella Ulloa stepped up and did the improbable -- push a bunt in between the first and second basemen, allowing Ambree Muller to score the winning run and give the Broncos a 3-2 come-from-behind win in Region 8-AAAAA championship game over Archer.
The game, which gave Brookwood (30-5) its third-straight region title, saw Archer load the bases with less than two outs in two of the final three innings, only to see their hopes dashed by Brookwood's pitching and defense.
"This win feels good," said Brookwood head coach Bill Batchelor. "Play after play, these girls stayed focused. They never quit, no matter what went against us."
Archer took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first when Nani Cabrales sent a two-run home run over the left-field fence.
Brookwood answered with a run of its own in the bottom of the second, taking advantage of two wild pitches by Cabrales, as Taylor Rinehart came in to cut the lead to 2-1.
The Tigers (22-11) looked to answer in the top of the third by putting runners on first and second with two outs. However, Brookwood's Brandi Jones painted the outside corner on a 1-2 count to strike out Jenna Graham.
"At the beginning of the year, I would've gotten down after giving up a home run and letting more runners on base," Jones said. "After that happened (Thursday night), I told myself it was only the first inning and we still had a long way to go. I continued to throw my pitches."
The fifth inning saw the Lady Tigers load the bases with one out. Jones stepped up again and got a fielder's choice and fly out to end the inning, leaving Archer's lead at 2-1.
In the bottom half of the inning, Muller took advantage of getting hit by a pitch as she stole second and third to put herself in position for Ulloa's RBI groundout, tying the game.
Jones again played with fire in the sixth inning, as did Cabrales in her half of the sixth, but both pitchers stayed strong, getting inning-ending outs to preserve the tie.
Archer again loaded the bases in the top of the seventh with one out, but a fielder's choice and a ground out squashed those chances and brought the Lady Broncos up for a chance to win the game.
Muller came up first and quickly got on with a bunt. Three pitches later, she broke for second, slid head first into second, seemingly tagged out by the fielder. However, the ball was dropped and Muller was safe. Emily Brantley was then intentionally walked to set up a force play, but it didn't matter as Ulloa placed a perfect bunt to score Muller with the winning run. And, the celebration was on.
"We play good teams throughout the year because of situations and games like this," Batchelor said. "It's these moments that you live for."
Jones finished the game with nine strikeouts, while Cabrales had six.
To get to the deciding game, Brookwood took care of business in the early game, beating up on Archer, 9-1, in six innings.
The Lady Broncos scored two runs in the first inning as Mandy Blackwell laced an RBI single to score her sister, Jenny, with Jones knocking an RBI double to score the other run.
Cabrales answered with a solo home run in the bottom half of the inning, cutting the lead to 2-1.
However, it was all Brookwood from there. The Lady Broncos scored four runs in the second inning, including a three-run blast by Megan Litumbe to take a 6-1 lead. After the inning, both pitchers were pulled to rest for Game 2.
In the third inning, it was more of the same as Ulloa laced a two-run single to score Rinehart and Muller, giving Brookwood an 8-1 lead.
The Lady Broncos added one more run in the sixth inning as Susan Norris tripled, and later scored on a single by Nicole Truett.
Rachel Hill picked up the save in relief of Jones, pitching four innings, giving up two hits and striking out four.
"The wins are nice, but we're not focused on Oct. 6, we're focused on Oct. 29 (state championship)," Batchelor said. "I'm sure Archer is, too. The win is nice, but it's not the ultimate goal."