Staff Photo: John Bohn Brookwood second baseman Daniella Ulloa (12) prepares put a tag on Archer base runner Andria Booth (00) during the fifth inning of Tuesday's game. Booth was stretching a single. Brookwood defeated Archer 6 to 2 to win the Region 8-AAAAA championship.
SNELLVILLE -- Even as a sophomore, Taiylor Rinehart knows how tough Nani Cabrales is to face.
Add in two outs, the Archer pitcher throwing with an early lead and a showdown for the regular season Region 8-AAAAA title, and the stakes were high for the young outfielder.
"I was so nervous, I was shaking," Rinehart said of her first-inning at-bat.
The shakes didn't effect Rinehart for long. She knocked a bases-loaded single into left field, scoring Megan Litumbe and Mandy Blackwell and tying the game at 2-2 after the first inning. The two-out hit led to a 6-2 Brookwood win, giving the Broncos their second consecutive 8-AAAAA regular season championship. The Broncos will again host the region tournament beginning Thursday. Brookwood is the No. 1 seed, Archer the No. 2. But with the region tournament coming up, the win was more about seeding and hosting. There was little celebration after the game.
"We like to play at home," Brookwood coach Bill Batchelor said. "Our kids are comfortable here. When you put all this time and work in, it's a big reward."
And Brookwood earned it with a comeback win.
"We said coming in (after falling behind 2-0) that we had seven innings to hit," Brookwood coach Bill Batchelor said. "That was huge to jump start us. It changed the momentum."
"I was so excited," Rinehart said of the hit.
Brookwood added two more runs in the third inning to take the lead. They again came with two outs and Rinehart again helped key the rally. This time she coaxed a two-out walk from Cabrales setting up Ambree Muller's two-RBI double.
"That's what we didn't do this past weekend," Batchelor said of the two-out production. "We had opportunities and they stayed focused on what their job was."
The four runs proved enough as Brandi Jones silenced Archer after the Tigers' early production. After the senior pitcher allowed a two-RBI single to Jenna Graham in the first inning, she allowed just three more hits the rest of the game. She pitched all seven innings, allowing two runs off six hits and struck out nine. Jones ended the game with three straight strikeouts in the seventh after giving up a lead-off single.
Archer's Abby Lyall was the only batter to get more than one hit off Jones, including a double in the second inning. The Broncos didn't give Cabrales a pitch to hit until the sixth inning and she promptly smacked it off the left-center field wall. But by then, the Broncos had a four-run lead and Cabrales didn't get past third.
"With a four-run lead you can go after people a little bit," Batchelor said of pitching to the Tigers' pitcher in the sixth inning.
Cabrales ended the game 1-for-1 with two walks, pitching all six innings. She allowed four earned runs off seven hits and struck out four.
"We knew she was gonna be tough," Batchelor said.
Brookwood scored its final two runs on a bunt attempt by Jones. The throw to first hit off Jones' left arm and ricocheted into right field allowing Litumbe and Blackwell to score. Litumbe scored three runs on a 1-for-1 night with two walks, both to lead off innings, Blackwell was 2-for-3 with two runs scored and Rinehart ended the game 1-for-2 and reached on a fielder's choice in her last at-bat.
This is her first full season on varsity after getting a midseason promotion a year ago, so this will be her second region tournament at home.
"It feels great," she said.