When Brighton made a fourth trip to Savannah in five days on Tuesday, it had already qualified for next Monday’s region semifinals, which is the goal every season.
Needing to beat Hardin County two straight games on the Tigers’ home field to win the district title, the Cardinals could have been content, knowing the season would continue next week.
They were not content.
Brighton, the fourth seed in the tournament, beat top-seeded Hardin County 5-4 in the first game and 7-6 in the second to win the district title and earn the right to host a region semifinal game next Monday.
“To say I am pleased with the way our guys played is an understatement,” Brighton coach Ryan Wood said. “To come from the four seed with a play-in game, lose round one to Hardin, then respond by eliminating well-coached Dyer County and Munford teams, then have to come back and win two against the home town host team, I can’t say how proud I am of each and everyone one of our players. Stats will show a lot amazing individual performances, but what they don’t show is the fight that every player had. Starter to backup. Every player had a role in that win and I’m proud of all of them.”
Brighton scored seven runs in the first three innings in the second game to go ahead 7-3 and held on for the win.
Kaleb Baskin and Andrew Davis each singled and homered and Luke Perkins singled, doubled and drove in a run.
John Richardson struck out two and allowed five hits and five runs over 3.1 innings to earn the win. Colton Bryant and Davis each pitched in relief to preserve the lead.
In game one, Brighton scored twice in the top of the sixth to go ahead 5-2 before Hardin County scored twice in the bottom of the frame to make things interesting.
Baskin struck out four and allowed four runs on eight hits in 6.1 innings to get the win.
With one out and one on base, John Richardson relieved Baskin in the bottom of the seventh and got out of the inning to earn the save.
Brighton had just two hits, a double by Baskin and a single by Bennett Stutts, but drew seven walks and took advantage of four Hardin County errors.
Wood gave a lot of credit to his assistant coaches for the win and said the focus of the team now turns toward Monday. Brighton has not advanced past the region semifinals in more than a decade. Monday’s winner advances to the region title game and will play in teh sectionals, the winner of which advances to the state tournament.
“All the accolades and excitement from last night means a lot to Brighton baseball and is one goal in our list, but we have not won that Monday Region game since I’ve been at Brighton,” Wood said. “That is what our full focus has been on all season. Getting back to that game and winning it. Every single day we have talked about this goal and it is time to check it off … We have to grind the next couple days and through the weekend to make sure we’re prepared. We have a lot of unfinished business and unmet goals before we hang our hats and look back on the season’s accomplishments.”