BRUNSWICK — Thursday’s Class 1A West Section II playoff game with Francis Scott Key had an all-but-too familiar setting for Brunswick’s baseball team.
The Railroaders bowed out of the regional playoffs in the first round the past two years. Both were 1-0 losses — to Catoctin last year and Boonsboro in 2017.
Brunswick trailed the Eagles 1-0 in the bottom of the seventh inning. Matt Boyer was concerned, but he still believed there was time for his teammates to rally for the win.
“This is a pretty tight group,” Boyer said. “I felt confident we could get out of this jam.”
His optimism was not unfounded.
The Railroaders tied the score in the seventh, with Kyle Cruz pushing across the tying run when he hit into a forceout. Then Boyer delivered in the clutch in the eighth with two out.
Boyer hit a game-winning RBI single to left-center field, scoring Ethan Fritter and giving Brunswick a 2-1 win over FSK.
“We just had some bad luck in the early innings, always seeming to hit good shots right at somebody,” said Boyer, a senior who led the Railroaders with two hits. “We got through it.”
The comeback win sets up a third meeting with Catoctin at 2 p.m. on Saturday in the section semifinals. The Railroaders (9-10) and the top-seeded Cougars split the regular-season series.
FSK took advantage of two Brunswick errors in the first to score an unearned run for a 1-0 lead. For the next five innings, the Eagles kept the Railroaders from advancing no further than second, retiring 18 of 20 batters.
It looked more and more like Brunswick would remain stuck in its 1-0, one-game-and-out funk a third straight year. Instead, Boyer began setting up his team’s comeback in the seventh, leading off with a single to left-center.
Boyer moved to second on Dalton Cooper’s single to left and advanced to third on a wild pitch.
After Trevor Barnhouse struck out, Cruz hit a grounder to shortstop. Pinch-runner Collin Pelkey was forced out at second, but Boyer scored on the play, tying the score at 1 and eventually sending the game into extra innings.
The Railroaders got out of the top of the eighth with no damage. With one out in the bottom of the eighth, Ethan Fritter drew a walk.
Chase Ebberts struck out. Matt Walker was hit by a pitch, bringing Boyer to the plate.
After waiting out a 2-1 pitch, Boyer hit his game-winning single to left-center, Fritter steamed around third and scored.
“That’s playoff baseball,” Brunswick coach Roger Dawson said of the comeback win. “Two straight years, we’re out in the first round by 1-0 losses. Then, we’re on the brink again, but this time, we were able to pull it out.”
Thursday’s game featured a pitcher’s battle between Cruz and FSK’s Kyle Williams. Cruz went the distance on a three-hitter with three strikeouts, two walks and two hit batters.
Williams lasted 7 2-3 innings, also tossing a three-hitter, with four strikeouts, three walks and two hitter batters.
Cruz struggled early in the game but soon settled down for the rest of his stint on the mound, picking up the win. Williams took the loss for the Eagles.
Cruz said he would lead with the fastball to get deep in the count, then go with his curveball.
“That would keep them off-balance,” he said.
Dawson said both starters played good games.
“Hats off to Williams for them,” he said. “He threw a heck of a game. Kyle hung in there and worked his way out of jams.”