Brighton had just two less hits than Arlington Monday night in Brighton in a do-or-die Region 7-AAA semifinal game Monday night.
The Tigers, however, strung together five of their 10 hits in the top of the fifth and scored five times. That proved to be the difference in an 8-3 win and Arlington ended Brighton’s season in the regionals for the second straight season.
“It comes down to this: They made the plays and had timely hits,” said first-year Brighton coach Ryan Wood. “We just didn’t. It wasn’t our night. I thought our guys worked hard all year preparing for this moment, but it just didn’t work out this time.”
Arlington jumped out to a 3-0 lead through three innings before the Cardinals (22-8) rallied for three in the bottom of the third to tie the game.
Jake Olivette walked and Dylan Forbes singled to get the rally going and Hunter Deering brought them both home with a double. He was thrown out at third trying to stretch the hit into a triple. A Blane Lavelle single followed and a third run scored on an error, but the Cardinals did not score again.
Brighton put two runners on with one out in the fifth, but came up empty. Deering, who was 2 for 4, led off the seventh with a single, but Dalton Rushing lined into a double play, ending any chance of a late rally.
Deering, who got the win while pitching eight innings in the district title game last week, took the loss. He allowed eight runs on 10 hits with five strikeouts and four walks. Dylan Baskin relieved him in the fourth inning, striking out four and allowing one hit.
Rushing doubled in the first inning and Sam Dunlap and Kaleb Baskin each singled.
Though the season ended on a down note, Brighton won a district title for the second straight season. Wood joined the program as an assistant coach when this year’s nine seniors were freshmen. The seniors met by themselves in the outfield after the game for about 15 minutes.
“For four years they grinded. I couldn’t be more proud of them,” Wood said. “There are a bunch of good kids I’m going to miss seeing up and down those halls. I feel like I came in as a freshman with them. That’s a group I’ll never forget. It literally wasn’t in the cards tonight.”