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Counting Down Top 20 Stories from D9 in 2016-17: No. 4: Brookville Baseball Team Makes Dream Run to PIAA Semifinals

Between June 27 and July 24 will be counting down the Top 20 stories in District 9 from the 2016-17 school year starting with No. 20 June 27 and finishing with No. 1 July 24.

No. 4: Young Brookville Baseball Team Makes Dream Run to PIAA Semifinals

Going into the 2017 season, many expected the year to be a learning one for the Brookville baseball team. After all, the Raiders had just two seniors and a junior and plenty of sophomores and freshmen on the squad.

And when Brookville started the year 5-9 that script seemed to be holding true.

But then a funny thing happened. The Raiders got hot and stayed hot.

Starting with a 2-1 win over rival Punxsutawney on the road May 10, Brookville won four of its final six regular-season games and went to the playoffs at 9-11 as the No. 5 seed in a six-team D9 Class 2A bracket.

The Raiders played like a No. 1 seed.

First, they beat fourth-seeded Coudersport on the road 8-1. They then crushed top-seeded Johnsonburg 13-1 to set up a title game against No. 6 seed Brockway, who they dispatched 2-0 to win their first D9 title since 2012.

The great story didn’t end there.

Brookville topped Conemaugh Township 4-3 in opening round of the PIAA playoffs on a walk-off sacrifice fly by Ben Caun and then did the unthinkable and rolled past Saegertown 7-3 to reach the PIAA semifinals for the first time in school history.

In the semifinals, the young Raiders met up against juggernaut Bishop McCort, which had finished second in the state in 2016. The Crushers were a bit much for Brookville beating the Raiders 10-3 but it didn’t take away from a fantastic season and the future of Brookville baseball looks bright.

Some highlights from the Raiders playoff run:

  • Freshman Aaron Park was solid both on the mound and at the plate. The rookie went six innings allowing an unearned run on five hits and two walks while striking out three and also had a two-run triple in a five-run seventh that allowed Brookville break open a 3-1 game on its way to the 8-1 win at Coudersport in the opening round of the D9 2A playoffs. Bryan Dworek’s two-run double in the fourth gave Brookville a 2-1 lead, and Tanner LaBenne had three hits with Park and Dworek each adding two.
  • The Raiders nice season was supposed to end in the D9 semifinals at top-seeded and heavily favored Johnsonburg. Brookville’s youngsters had other ideas. Ben Caun went 1-for-2 with a home run, two walks, two runs scored and five RBIs to lift the Raiders to a 13-1, six-inning shelling of the Rams. That was more than enough for Ben Reitz, who allowed an unearned run on three hits and three walks while striking out seven. Freshman shortstop Seth Dunkle added a 3-for-4 day with two RBIs, a run scored and a stolen base.
  • In the D9 2A title game, Brookville turned again to Park, and the soon-to-be District 9 Freshman of the Year was up to the task tossing six shutout innings allowing five hits and two walks while striking out four. Reitz, one of just two seniors on the team, gave Brookville the only run it needed when he singled to left-center in the third scoring Bryan Dworek, who led off with walk and stole second before a two-out walk to Park. Caun, the other senior, then made it 2-0 when he reached on an error that scored Park. Reitz relieved Park in the seventh and struck out the side to pick up the save and give the Raiders the title.
  • It turned out Brookville wasn’t satisfied with just a D9 title. In the opening round of the PIAA playoffs, the Raiders jumped out to a 3-1 lead over Conemaugh Township and still led 3-2 going to the top of the seventh only to watch the District 5 champion score a run in the top of the seventh to tie the game. But instead of hanging its head, Brookville put together the winning rally in the bottom of the seventh Park, who had surrendered the game-tying homer in the top of the inning, drew a one-out walk. Adam Mackin ran for him, and Reitz put down a sacrifice bunt that turned out beautifully for the Raiders when the ball was thrown wild to first putting runners at the corners for Caun, who lofted a sac fly to center to win the game. It was the second RBI of the game for Caun, while LaBenne had a pair of hits. Reitz and Park combined on another strong pitching performance. Reitz tossed four innings allowing two runs on four hits, a walk and three hit batters while striking out four. Park went three innings and got the win allowing a run on three hits and four walks while striking out four.
  • In the PIAA quarterfinals, Brookville built a 6-0 lead after two innings on its way to the 7-3 win over Saegertown, the District 10 runner-up. Dworek was 3-for-3 with two runs scored, Dunkle went 3-for-4 with three RBIs and two runs scored, Reitz was 2-for-3 with an RBI, Brady Caylor was 2-for-2 with two runs scored and Park drove in two runs. Park got the win going five innings allowing two runs, one earned, on three hits and three walks while striking out three. Dworek went two innings in relief allowing a run on two hits and a hit batter and two strikeouts.

Top 20 Sports Stories in District 9 for the 2016-17 School Year

No. 20 – Three District 9 girls’ place in the javelin at the PIAA Championships
No. 19 – Brockway Girls and Port Allegany Boys Claim First-Ever D9 Soccer Titles
No. 18 – Ridgway Boys’ Basketball Marches to PIAA Elite Eight
No. 17 – Ridgway Claims D9 1A Football Title
No. 16 – Kane Football Wins Third Straight D9 Title
No. 15 – Elk County Catholic Boys’ Cross Country Takes Second at PIAA Championships
No. 14 – Moniteau Softball Wins 4th Straight Title but Stunned in PIAA Playoffs
No. 13 – The Big Four Inside Junior Girls Dominate D9 Basketball
No. 12 – Punxsutawney’s Streak of 13 Straight D9 Baseball Titles Ended by Clearfield
No. 11 – Karns City Girls’ Soccer Dominance
No. 10 – Oswayo Valley Baseball Becomes District 9 Powerhouse
No. 9 – ECC Hoops Goes Back-to-Back Unbeaten Regular Seasons for First Time in School History
No. 8 – North Clarion Girls’ Basketball Team Wins First D9 Title Advances to PIAA Quarterfinals
No. 7 – DCC Softball Wins Third D9 Title in Four Years Moves onto PIAA Semifinals for 2nd Straight Year
No. 6 – Coudersport Volleyball Comes Oh So Close to PIAA Championship Match
No. 5 – Three legendary District 9 Coaches Hit Coaching Milestones
No. 4 – Young Brookville Baseball Team Makes Dream Run to PIAA Semifinals
No. 3 – Released July 20
No. 2 – Released July 21
No. 1 – Released July 24