By Thomas Sellers Jr.
BARTLETT — The Brighton Cardinals are nine outs away from being 2-0 on the season.
But instead two late collapses have the Cardinals 0-2 as of March 12. The previous day Brighton opened the 2013 season in the Lewis Harris Tournament taking on the defending State champions Arlington Tigers. Only behind 2-1 entering the sixth inning after starter Caleb Armour held the Tigers to two hits, a couple of miscues in the field led to Arlington pulling away 9-2. The Cardinals were on the rebound March 12 on the home field of the Bartlett Panthers taking on the Collierville Dragons. And using eight hits, Brighton built a 3-1 lead entering the seventh inning. But the Dragons staged a final inning rally with three runs to win the game 4-3.
“Right now, both loses, we never did finish it,” Brighton Head Coach Brian Oswalt said. “You’ve got to be able to finish a game. Right now we’re falling a part right there at the end. But there are positives.
“We have hit the ball the past two days against good teams,” he continued. “We put up big hits with eight today and six or seven hits last night. We’re hitting the ball against good pitching. That’s a positive for us but we’ve just got to learn how to finish.”
Taking the mound on day two of the Lewis Harris Tournament for Brighton was Nate Newman. And he held the Dragons to a Parker Phillip home run through six innings. Newman’s teammates gave him a 1-0 lead in the second inning when Matt Scott drove in a run on a fielder’s choice. The rally started when Armour reached on an error. Then Ladarrius “Lil D” Williams followed with a base hit. Newman moved Armour to third base with a single of his own. Then Scott hit and drove Armour home for the 1-0 lead. Then Parker tied the game at 1-1 in the top of the third with his blast. The Cardinals regained the lead in the bottom half of the inning with an RBI from Jared Webb and a run crossing the plate courtesy of a Collierville error.
“Last night we had a great performance and tonight Nate did a great job,” Oswalt noted. “Right now everybody is on pitch count. So our other guys have to fill in. I thought (Ryan) Price did a good job tonight. He came in and did what we wanted him to do. And I like seeing that too. He did a great job for us tonight. We should have been out of it.
“Last night, same thing, Armour threw the ball well,” he added. “They only had two hits against him. At the end of the year, we’re finishing those games.”
After Newman held the Dragons to one run in six innings, the Cardinals handed the ball to closer Price. And with one out and a runner on first base, Price induced the Collierville batter into a double play. The ball was hit to shortstop and with a toss to second base, it appeared the game was about to conclude with the Cardinals winning. But the ball was bobbled and dropped making all the runners safe.
Moments later Dragon Cody Young came up clutch with a double driving in two runs making the score 4-3.
“Mental and some fielding errors tonight causes us the ball game,” Oswalt acknowledged. “Same thing happen last night, a couple of errors, there back in the ball game. Against good teams like that, you can’t let them have anything. You have to be nearly perfect.”
Although his team left Bartlett 0-2, Oswalt said there were many positives to take back to Tipton County after playing two of the area’s best. But he’s ready to see his player close the deal in the near future.
“I’ve got a lot of juniors,” he said. “I told them, ‘You’ve got to grow. It’s all about growing and you’ve got to dig deep. Everything in life is hard and finishing a game is hard.’
“To beat a good team like Collierville, you’ve got to be perfect,” Oswalt concluded. “Tonight, we weren’t perfect. Three double-play balls, and we only finish two. That’s not perfect.”