Hamilton High's quest for an 11th consecutive win to open the season wasn't an easy one and nor did the Huskies expect it would be.
After a rugged start that belied many of the good things Hamilton had done in its first 10 wins, the Huskies pounced in the top of the seventh for five runs to post a come-from-behind 7-3 victory over host Brophy Prep Tuesday in Division I game under the lights.
For six innings the game boiled down to a superb pitching duel between Hamilton senior Kent Hasler and Brophy senior Ryan Castellani. Scouts on hand made the stands a tighter fit than usual and neither pitcher disappointed.
Hasler ended up going the distance for his fourth win in as many starts. The smaller, but equally effective right-hander gave up four hits, walked one and fanned nine. He finished strong, getting five of his nine Ks in the final two innings. Hasler was taken off the hook for a tough loss by his teammates, who managed five hits and five runs in the top of the seventh against two Brophy relievers. That turned a 3-2 deficit to win No. 11.
"We didn't start real well, but Kent is a real competitor," Hamilton coach Mike Woods said. "He minimized the damage early. He's pitched in big games for us before so he's used to it. He stayed composed."
Hamilton couldn't have been happier to attempt its comeback in the top of the seventh after seeing the 6-foot-4 Castellani was done and the bullpen was called upon. Castellani was just over the 100-pitch mark after six and left having allowed the Huskies just four hits (all singles) and one earned run. Castellani walked one and struck out seven.
Leadoff hitter Ryan Peep wasted no time in tying the game at 3 by ripping the first pitch he saw from reliever Hunter Parks well over the left field wall. It was Peep's fourth homer of the year.
Justin Wylie followed with a single and then Austin Filiere doubled. A wild pitch brought Wylie home for a 4-3 lead. Jake Boston was hit by a pitch and that was all for Parks. Brophy coach Tom Succow summoned lefty Chris Ashton to put out the fire. Ashton got a strikeout of the first hitter he faced, but walked the next one to fill the bases.
Hamilton's hard-luck hitter of the game, Hunter Robson, broke through with a two-run single to bump the lead to 6-3. Cameron Cruz added the final run with an RBI single.
"The third time was the charm for Hunter," Woods said. "The second baseman took a hit from him his first at-bat and the right fielder got him in the sixth. That hit was a big one."
Hamilton's nearly air-tight defense the first 10 games was suspect in the first. The first two Brophy hitters reached on infield errors, but Hasler managed to keep Brophy (7-3) to a single unearned tally.
Brophy got a solo homer in the second by CJ Bruske and took a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the third after Hamilton pushed across two runs in the top of the frame. A single by Christian Maggi and RBI double by Nolan Weinstein gave Castellani the lead Brophy held for the next three innings.