The HoCo Bears opened their 2023 Playoff run by hitting five jacks in both games combined (three by Drew Burress) en route to a two game series sweep of the Brunswick Pirates to advance to the Sweet Sixteen.
The Bears plated three runs in the bottom half of the first on no hits and after a scoreless last of the second…. HoCo plated five runs in the bottom of the third with two coming via an Ethan Buffone single, one coming in on a Vick Gann single, one coming in via an Andrew Dunford getting HBP, and a walk that rounded the bases to give the Bears an 8-0 lead in game one.
HoCo’s offense continued to fire on all cylinders in the last of the fourth when Vick Gann hit a sac fly to center that ran in Ryker Chavis and then…. with the bases loaded, senior Drew Burress who had not hit a home run since March 24th in game one of a doubleheader against TCC…. hit his first grand slam of 2023 that would run in himself, senior Elijah Smith, Ethan Buffone, & Eli Stephens to extend the lead to 13-0 in favor of the host.
In the top half of the fifth, the Pirates plated a run in quite possibly the weirdest way possible after HoCo recorded a strikeout and during the throw around, one of the Bears players could not corral the ball and Isaiah Brauda was able to run himself home to get Brunswick on the board. HoCo finished off game one by winning 13-1 in five to take a 1-0 series lead.
Drew Burress led the Bears in rbis with four followed by Andrew Dunford, Ethan Buffone, and Vick Gann with two, and Kai Decker with one. SP Ryker Chavis pitched all five innings surrendering one run (unearned) on two hits, walking one, and striking out six.
Brunswick’s pitchers combined to allow 13 runs (all earned) on 10 hits, walking nine, and striking out two. HoCo committed two errors while the Pirates committed no errors in game one.
Game two started off slow as neither team plated runs in the first two innings (the Pirates were the designated home team in this game)…. until the Bears got on the board in the top half of the third when Drew Burress hit his second jack of the afternoon… a three run bomb that ran in himself, Vick Gann, and courtesy runner Christian Wahiwe.
HoCo added a fourth run in the top half of the fourth when Vick Gann hit an rbi single that ran in Elijah Smith. Two more runs were plated by the Bears in the top half of the fifth that came in via a Hunter Chiappetta sac bunt and a Ty Waters rbi single to extend the lead to 6-0.
Drew Burress continued his onslaught by cranking his third jack of the day in the top half of the sixth that ran in himself and Vick Gann to give the designated visitors an 8-0 lead going into the last of the sixth. Brunswick got in on the home run action as well when Roland Chance hit a two run jack that would run in himself and Jordan Lodise to get the Pirates on the board.
The Bears were not done cranking bombs as seniors Hunter Chiappetta and Elijah Smith both cranked their first jacks of the season in the top half of the seventh to give HoCo an 11-2 lead going into the last of the seventh. The Bears put two outs on the board rather quickly but they got sloppy and struggled immensely to record the final out of game two.
Vick Gann had the third out in his grasp but dropped the ball to give the Pirates a base runner and later two singles were hit to load the bases and that was followed by back-to-back walks that rounded the bases twice to allow Brunswick to cut the gap down to seven… 11-4. HoCo would eventually get the third out and win game two 11-4 to sweep the series over the Pirates.
Drew Burress once again led the Bears in rbis with five followed by Hunter Chiappetta and Elijah Smith with two and Ty Waters and Vick Gann with one. Roland Chance led the Pirates in rbis with three followed by Isaiah Brauda with one. SP Andrew Dunford allowed no runs on two hits, walking two, and striking out three for HoCo while their bullpen combined to allow four runs (one earned) on five hits, walking three, and striking out three.
The Pirates pitchers combined to allow 11 runs (10 earned) on 12 hits, walking six, and striking out six. The Bears committed three errors while Brunswick commited one error.
HoCo improves to 28-6 overall and will host the Marist War Eagles in the Sweet 16 next Saturday and Game 3 would be Monday May 1st if needed. The Bears and War Eagles battled twice back in February with HoCo winning both at home. Brunswick finishes their season at 17-14 overall.