DuBOIS — Pulaski and Brookville opened the Federation League playoffs by splitting a pair of close games, so it should have come as no surprise that Thursday’s third and deciding matchup in the first-round series once again went down to the wire.
And, it was fourth-seeded Pulaski that held on for a 5-4 victory at Showers Field to advance to the Fed League semifinals against top-seeded DuBois. That series should draw some nice crowds as the two DuBois-based teams will play each game of the series at Showers Field.
To get there, Pulaski used a couple clutch hits and a gritty performance by starter Colin Read, who scattered 10 hits on his way to allowing four runs, three earned, in a complete-game effort. He struck out two and walked one.
Pulaski was outhit 10-6 in the game, but the General made the most of the those hits in notching the win. Jackson Frank delivered a huge two-out, three-run double in the bottom of the first to put Pulaski up for good at 3-2.
The Generals added their final two more runs in the fourth on a Braden Paulinellie RBI single and an error.
Brookville didn’t go quietly though, as the Grays put up one final comeback bid in the seventh after struggling to get anything going in the middle innings.
The Grays pushed two runs across on an error and three hits — one of which was a RBI single by Joe Lopez. Brookville proceeded to load the bases with one out against Read before his defense came out up with two big plays to to end the series.
Pulaski first baseman Phil Myers made a diving stop on a hard grounder and fired home from his knees. Catcher Adam Bankovich made a nide stop of the throw and stepped on home for a forceout for out No. 2.
Sam Leadbetter then hit a ball up the middle that he appeared to think was through the infield to tie the game. However, shortstop Braden Paulinellie made a nice play deep behind the second base bag, then spun and fired to first.
Myers may have come off the bag on the stretch, but Leadbetter was called out and the call was not questioned by Brookville as the teams lined up to shake hands following a hard-fought series.
The three games were decided by a combined four runs — with the last two contests seeing each team win by a single run.
Pulaski and DuBois will start their best-of-seven semifinals series Saturday at 5 p.m. at Showers Field. The other semifinal series pits defending league champ and second-seeded Rossiter vs. third-seeded Sykesville, with Game 1 Saturday at 5 p.m. in Rossiter.
As for Thursday’s game, both teams got off to strong starts.
Brookville’s Seth Dunkle and Joe Lopez led off the game with back-to-back doubles against Read, with Lopez’s two-bagger scoring Dunkle. Lopez then came home on Tanner LaBenne’s one-out single to put the Grays up 2-0.
That lead was short-lived though as Pulaski answered right back in the bottom half.
The Generals loaded the bases with one out as Paulinellie and Adam Bankovich drew walks off Brookville starter Brandon Bell, who also hit Myers. Bell then got Drew Bankovich to fly out to shallow center, but Frank delivered a clutch two-out, bases-clearing double to the left-center gap to put the Generals up 3-2 after one inning.
Read settled in after the rough first inning and allowed just two runners to reach second over the ensuing five innings, thanks in large part to some strong defense.
Center fielder Shane Haberberger made a nice shoestring catch on a line drive in the second inning, while Myers made two nice scoops on lows throws in the fourth. The Generals also turned a 6-4-3 double play to end the sixth.
Meanwhile, the Pulaski offense added two big insurance runs in the fourth.
Devin Clark singled with one out and hustled around to third when Lucas Burkett dropped in a double the other way down the left-field line. Paulinellie followed with a single to right that plated Clark.
Paulinellie took off for second with Myers at the plate, and Brookville tried to pick off Burkett at third on the play. However, the throw by catcher Nate Bonfardine was off the mark, allowing Burkett to score to make it 5-2.
Burkett was the lone General with two hits in the game.
Brookville’s comeback bid in the top of the seventh started when Thomas Plummer reached on a leadoff error. Jace Minor followed with a single to left, and Plummer scored when the ball was mishandled in left field.
Lopez singled two batters later to bring home Minor to make it a one-run game, but Paulinellie’s huge defensive play with the bases loaded stopped the Grays’ rally in its track and sent Pulaski on to the semifinals.