Seniors step up as Brandon rallies for 10-7 win over King

Brandon senior Reggie Faison Jr. battled through early struggles, but gave his team five innings and chipped in two hits and two RBI. 

By Jarrett Guthrie, Editor

BRANDON – King looked to spoil senior night for Brandon starting pitcher Reggie Faison Jr. on Thursday, getting its first five runners aboard and plating three. Two innings later, the Lions tacked on two more and it looked like it would be a short and tough night for the righty.

But Faison wasn’t going to go away without a fight – helping his own cause with a two-run single in the third, as the Eagles dented the scoreboard with nine runs before the Lions could catch a breath and Brandon pulled out a 10-7 win.

Click here for our full gallery of photos from this game.

“When you are playing for the team that means everyone has to step up and help each other out,” Faison said. “With the bases loaded – it’s high school – I knew I just had to put something in play and good things will happen.”

Faison sends a skipping ground ball to the left side, driving in two runs.

Faison would turn in 1-2-3 innings in the fourth and fifth, finishing with eight strikeouts in his five innings of work, and going 2-for-4 at the plate to lead Brandon to a win.

“He locks in, never gets tired and works faster as the game goes along,” fellow senior Carson Junttila said of Faison. “It’s crazy. I believe if there was no pitch limit, he’d have no problem pitching every inning of every game.”

Brandon centerfielder Therren Cooper runs under a pop fly in the third inning.

Faison showed a good mix of pitches all night, but really found success with his curve in the fourth and fired in fastballs to end the fifth.

“In my last two innings, I just said, ‘okay, forget about what has already happened, and go out there and be a bulldog,’” Faison said. “… I had to attack the batters, and doing so with more fastballs and breaking off my curve a little better. Then I just trusted my guys to make plays for me.”

King senior Chris Hendricks throws to third to get Reggie Faison for the second out of the third. Hendricks was 2-for-4 at the plate, scoring one run.

King (5-18) jumped out quickly in the first, as senior Chris Hendricks (2-for-4) singled to lead off the game, and scored on a double from Nico Brown. Jacari Sandlin would drive in a second run, before a tough double-play call dimmed the chances for a bigger inning for the Lions, despite bringing in a third run.

King sophomore Nico Brown connects on his RBI double in the first.

The Lions added two more in the third as Jaden Hill tripled in Nico Brown (walk), and scored on a wild pitch.

From there, Brandon (4-19) turned it up. The Eagles other two seniors Therren Cooper and Carson Junttila kicked off the offense. Cooper would go 2-for-3, with an RBI and two runs scored, and Junttila was 3-for-4, with a double and a run scored.

Brandon senior Carson Junttila celebrates his third-inning double. Junttila had three hits in the game for the Eagles and scored a run.

In some late-season strategy and its district opener against Middleton set for Monday, King was forced to call it an early night for Sandlin on the mound after three innings, where he senior allowed two runs on five hits, and struck out four.

King starting pitcher Jacari Sandlin.

Brandon was ready for the Lions relievers, as the Eagles loaded the bases in the fourth. Cooper would wear a pitch to plate the third run, and Charles Revi Rodriguez tied the game on a two-run single to left, starting a five-run frame for Brandon.

Charles Revi Rodriguez heads toward third base. Rodriguez drove in a pair and scored twice in the Eagles’ win.

Nine-hole hitter Francis Ovalles picked up his first of two hits in the game in the fifth and work around the bases on a wild pitch and another hit from Cooper, before scoring on a balk.

“We fell apart at first, but nobody got down on themselves,” Cooper said. “Our three seniors try and be leaders and pick everyone up, and we played together as a team tonight. The bottom of the lineup got us going and we just fought back and got runs piece by piece.”

After celebrating senior night in the pregame, Brandon first-year coach Mike Armstrong added one more in-game moment – sending Faison out for one pitch in the sixth before he and the Eagles bench players walked out to relieve their starting pitcher.

The Eagles bench players went to the mound in the sixth to relieve starting senior Reggie Faison Jr.

King wasn’t going away quietly though, scratching back a run in the sixth on a pinch-hit double by Aiden Finney gapped to left-center, and then answered another Brandon run (Austin Willett scored on a passed ball) with Sandlin driving in a final run in the seventh.

Junior pinch hitter Aiden Finney sends an RBI double to the left-center gap. 

But the Lions couldn’t cut the lead any closer as Gavin Hansen stranded two in scoring position with a fly out to left to end the game.

Brandon scored 10 runs for the first time this season, and the Eagles begin Class 5A-District 9 play against Braden River (11-11) at home on Monday. Cooper said he hopes the final regular-season game will give his team some usable momentum next week.

“We need to take how we played tonight in the third-through-fifth (innings), keep that mentality,” Cooper said, “if we play like that, we push through Monday and keep this going.”

King, the No. 4 seed in next week’s Class 4A-District 10 tournament, travels to Middleton on Monday. The Lions have defeated the Tigers twice this season by a combined score of 30-5.

Brandon senior captains (left to right) Carson Junttila, Reggie Faison Jr. and Therren Cooper at the pregame plate meeting.

Brandon 10, King 7

K 302|001|1 – |7|9|2
B 002|521|x – |10|12|2
W – Faison; L – Harrier
2B – Nico Brown, Finney (K); C. Junttila (B); 3B – Hill (K). Records – K (5-18); B (4-19).