MILROY - Although the Hadley Buttermakers collected eight hits in their 2-0 win over the Milroy Irish Friday night, they only needed one.
Nick Bruning's two-run home run in the top of the third inning was all that separated the Buttermakers and the Irish and lifted Hadley into the semifinal round of the First Nite/Gopher League playoffs after sweeping Milroy two games to none.
"A win's a win. We got the long ball when we needed it and defense was pretty good there until the last inning," Hadley manager Myron Bennett said. "Our defense played good and we got a good pitching game from our draftee. It was a nice all-around win. Things got a little exciting at the end."
Photo by Travis Andries
Hadley’s Nick Bruning crosses the plate after hitting a two-run home run during Friday’s First Nite/Gopher League game against the Milroy Irish at Yankee Field in Milroy.
Hadley draftee Tom Hady, originally of the Jackson Bulls, went the distance while picking up the shutout victory. Hady struck out one and walked two, but had done neither until the ninth inning.
Two walks and an error with two outs loaded the bases for Milroy and put the winning run at first base. The Irish were unable to cash in, however, as Dominic Dolan grounded into a fielder's choice to end the game.
Both teams left their share of runners on the base paths, though Hadley edged Milroy in that department as well, 11-10. The Irish tallied seven hits in the game, but all seven came in separate innings and none after the seventh.
"There was just no clutch hitting. When you come down to it in the playoffs, you need clutch hitting and we just didn't have it," Irish manager Bob Dolan said. "They get the one big hit and that was the difference in the game."
While Hady picked up a complete-game win, Tyler Peterson took the loss while pitching all nine innings for Milroy. Peterson had one lapse in command during the game, when he hit the leadoff man in the third. A fielder's choice by Eric Wieneke then brought Bruning to the plate with one on and one out. Peterson left a pitch out over the plate, which Bruning turned on and crushed to left field.
Peterson settled in after the homer and scattered four hits over the next six innings.
"I thought he threw really well. Hadley is a very good hitting team, they scored 11 runs off of us on Wednesday and (Peterson) came down to within one pitch of having a shutout," Dolan said. "I was happy about that, he threw a good game. And (Aaron Antony) called a good game catching too."
Peterson also provided most of the pop at the plate for Milroy, finishing the game 3-for-4 and stealing a base.
Wieneke had the only multi-hit game for Hadley, ending the night 2-for-5 with a double. Bruning was 1-for-2 with two RBIs, three walks and a stolen base.
It wasn't just Bruning's bat that brought down the Irish, the Hadley third baseman made an impact defensively as well.
Bruning had 11 assists in the game and three put outs, accounting for over half the outs in the game. With a runner on second and one out in the eighth, Bruning turned an Aaron Antony groundball into an inning-ending double play, tagging out Peterson and firing across the diamond to get Antony. Bruning also helped preserve the shutout in the ninth when he threw out pinch runner Tyler Alcorn at the plate for the second out in the inning.
"He was really tough over there tonight. He had struggled a little bit on Wednesday, but he made up for it tonight," Bennett said of Bruning. "He made all the plays but one. When we made an error we didn't let it come back and bite us like we had earlier in the year. We get to play on. Next Wednesday we get to go somewhere to play again. That's what we're here for."
Hadley's opponent for the next round of the playoffs had yet to be determined.
The loss brings Milroy's season to a close with an overall record of 18-12. Milroy entered their second round series with Hadley on a seven-game winning streak, but ran out of steam in the end.
"I think we started out pretty slow. We were .500 for most of the season and we finally got those seven games, which was nice to see," Dolan said. "We came into the playoffs on a high note, but unfortunately we ran into a good team in Hadley."
Buttermakers002 000 000-2 8 3
Milroy Irish000 000 000-0 7 0
B-Tom Hady; MI-Tyler Peterson. WP-Hady. LP-Peterson. 2B: B-Eric Wieneke, Joe Larson. HR: B-Nick Bruning. SB: B-Bruning; MI-Peterson, Anthony Dolan. LOB: B-11; MI-10.