Staff Photo: John Bohn Brookwood's Colin Cotter (24) is tagged out while stretching a lead by Grayson first baseman Taylor Allum (13) during the second inning of Wednesday's game. Grayson defeated Brookwood 8-4.
LOGANVILLE -- After giving up big rallies in late innings in many of his team's losses this season, including an earlier setback to Brookwood, Grayson baseball coach Jed Hixson figured it was only a matter of time before things evened out.
Sure enough, his Rams batted around in a five-run bottom of the fifth in Wednesday's rematch with the Broncos to come away with an 8-4 home victory.
"It was good to see us have a big offensive inning in the fifth instead of ... seeing it turn the wrong direction in the fifth and sixth," Hixson said. "That has happened a lot."
It didn't happen Wednesday, as Jack Banda (2-2) had a game-tying, RBI hit in the middle of the rally and threw five solid innings on the mound to help Grayson (12-7, 7-2) leapfrog past Brookwood (11-8, 7-3) and Parkview and into second place in Region 8-AAAAAA heading into today's play.
But it took a while for the Rams to grab momentum as the Broncos cashed in on four Grayson errors in the game, plus a passed ball, in the early innings.
And Jonathan White's RBI single in the top of the fifth broke a tie and gave the Broncos a 3-2 lead.
"It felt like everything was going against us at the start of the game," the 6-foot-3, 225-pound senior said. "We stayed in there long enough and had our inning finally."
Grayson got that chance after Casey Collins gunned down a potential second run at the plate on White's single, and Banda induced Brock Baughcum into an inning-ending liner to Collins in left to keep the Brookwood lead at one run.
And after stranding seven base runners in the first four innings, the Rams got yet another scoring opportunity when Taylor Allum drew a leadoff walk from Matt Aycock (1-1) followed by Kory Anderson's single and an infield single by Brandon Benson to load the bases with nobody out.
Banda then sent Aycock's next pitch off the left-hander's shin for an infield single that brought home pinch-runner Andres Gil to tie the game at 3-3.
"They scouted me and everyone throws me curveballs because they think I'm a big fastball hitter," Banda said. "So, I did what I wasn't supposed to do. I sat on a curveball on the first pitch, and it was there over the plate for me. And I hit it right back where it came from."
The Brookwood defense, which had been outstanding to that point, then made a rare miscue with an error on Oscar Valdes' grounder to second, allowing Anderson and Benson to scamper home with the tie-breaking runs to put Grayson in front at 5-3.
"We did a great job of getting out of some situations (earlier in the game)," Brookwood coach Rick Howard said. "But when you give good teams opportunities over and over and over, they're going to capitalize."
The Rams would take on two more runs off reliever Michael Ranieri on a sacrifice fly from Jeril Dawson and an RBI single from Chris Erwin, and when the dust had settled, the Grayson lead was 7-3.
Benson added a solo home run in the bottom of the sixth to make the score 8-3 before Brookwood tried to muster one last rally in the seventh.
Grayson's fourth error of the game on Alvaro Del Castillo's lead-off grounder was followed by a single from Jordan Dykes and an infield single from Garrett Reynolds one out later to load the bases.
But Jon Briley, who gave up just one unearned run in two innings out of the bullpen, limited the damage to an RBI ground out by White before getting Baughcum to ground to second to end the game.
It ended a frustrating day for Brookwood, which stranded nine baserunners.
"We were fortunate to take advantage of some opportunities (early)," Howard said. "We didn't cash in as many opportunities as we should have."
Banda finished the game 1-for-3 with a pair of RBIs, and scattered five hits and just one earned run with two strikeouts in his five innings.
The Rams also got a big day at the plate from Benson, who finished just a double short of the cycle, going 3-for-3 with the homer and an RBI, while Dawson drove also drove in two runs and Erwin finished 1-for-3 with an RBI.
White had two hits and two RBIs to lead the Broncos.