CALEXICO – The Brawley Union High baseball squad clinched their third straight Imperial Valley League championship Friday, following a 6-2 road victory over the Calexico High Bulldogs. Coming into Thursday’s meeting both teams were 10-1 in IVL play and their matchup was essentially the championship game as the winner would be the 2017 IVL outright champion.
Earning the victory for the Wildcats and pitching the entire game was Junior Robert Brodell who along with senior Blake Zeleny share sub 2.0 ERAs on the mound providing Brawley with a vicious one-two pitching punch all season.
Brodell and Calexico’s Nain Vasquez were locked in a tense pitching battle through three innings as neither would budge, stubbornly allowing no early on runs.
In the top of the fourth the Wildcats broke through as a Jacob Sapp single and a bunt sacrifice from Alexia Philips put two runners in scoring position with freshman Jude Latrell up to bat. Latrell drove a single, bringing home Casey Kline and Jacob Sapp to break the deadlock and put the Wildcats up, 2-0, after four innings.
In the following inning, the Wildcats manufactured another run after a Dylan Reina base hit. A sacrifice fly-out from Blake Zeleny would set Reina up at second. Brodell then managed a base hit, setting up Casey Kline with runners on first and third. A Kline single brought Reina home, giving the Wildcats a 3-0 lead in the top of the fifth.
The Wildcats would double their lead in the sixth as junior George Mickle led off with a single, and then stole second base. Mickle scored on a sophomore Jon Gonzalez single, bringing the score to 4-0. Later in the inning, with Gonzalez on third and Reina on first, Blake Zeleny brought Gonzalez home and set Reina up in scoring position at second base.
With the score reading 5-0 in the Wildcat’s favor, Reina manufactured a run of his own, when after a steal attempt at third, a wild throw gave Reina an easy trot home, putting the Wildcats 6-0 after the 6th with only six outs left for a ‘Cats IVL championship.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Bulldogs finally got on the board as Mario Garcia contributed a base hit while bases were loaded, bringing in two runs.Â The score after six innings was 6-2 in favor of the Wildcats and rÂ in the 7th as remained until pitcher Brodell and Wildcat defense, again, shut out the Calexico offense en route to the 6-2 final.
“I’m excited about the way we’re finishing off our league season,” said Brawley head coach, Pedro Carranza, whose squad will finish with an 11-1 league record, avenging their only league loss to Calexico earlier this season. They have a shot at a possible #1-4 seed in the CIF San Diego section Division III baseball playoffs.
“We like to go one pitch, one inning and one game at a time, and hopefully we’ve got some games to play ahead of us. We’re anticipating a good seed in the playoffs and just going from there,” added Carranza.
“I can’t say enough about our pitcher today. Robert Brodell pitched his butt off. Â I think there was one at-bat during the game that really exemplified what Brawley baseball is all about. I’m talking about a young lady coming off the bench, Alexia Philips, laying down a great bunt, cause that’s what she can do. She says “Coach, I can do it!” and she proves that she can, time and time again,” said Carranza of his starting pitcher and of the bunt that set up the first two runs of the game for the Wildcats.
“I did that for my team, and I’m glad I was able to be a part of this win and help take the IVL championship,” said Alexia Philips after the IVL championship victory.
“I love playing with my boys, I’ve been friends with them for as long as I can remember. Since freshman year we’ve all been together and it feels great to win a championship with them,” she added.
The Wildcats finish the regular season with a 19-6 overall record and an 11-1 IVL league record. Calexico finishes 13-8 overall and 10-2 in IVL play.Â Both teams eagerly anticipate the San Diego CIF baseball playoff seeding meeting scheduled for Saturday, May 20.