DEXTER — On his last pitch of the season, everything went awry for Brighton lefthander Cameron Tullar on Tuesday.
“He hit a fastball low and away,” Tullar said of Ann Arbor Skyline’s Darryn Davis. “He had a good swing on it.”
Davis, a left-handed hitter, hit a ball down the left-field line for what looked to be a sure double. Leftfielder Jack Krause fielded the ball and fired to cutoff man Trevor Hopman, who tried to throw Davis out at second.
“He threw it to me, and I wasn’t totally in position to make the cutoff, and I threw it to the right of the bag and it got away,” Hopman said.
The ball rolled all the way to the fence in foul territory, allowing Davis to score the only run in Skyline’s 1-0 upset win over the Bulldogs.
“That’s what high school baseball is all about,” Skyline coach Jeff Rhein said. “You have two pitchers who pitched an amazing game. The competition was there. The energy level wa there. I mean, we’re sad someone has to lose, but I’m glad we came out on top that time.”
Skyline (16-15) advanced to Saturday’s district semifinal against district host Dexter. The winner will play either Pinckney or Howell for the district title.
Davis’ unearned run made him the winning pitcher, after he came on when starter Eamon Horwedel reached the 105-pitch limit put into place by the MHSAA this season.
Horwedel proved masterful at getting out of trouble time and time again, leaving the Bulldogs 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position and striking out 12.
Tullar, for his part, was dominant, striking out 16 before Davis’ hit. Davis struck out two in 2 1/3 scoreless innings.
“We couldn’t ask for much more,” Brighton coach Charlie Christner said. “We had opportunities, so many opportunities, but we couldn’t get the one hit. (Tullar) was very good today. We didn’t get the hit and we didn’t get the play when we needed it today.”
The Bulldogs had a runner in every inning and stranded a runner on third three times, once after a leadoff triple by Andrew Gilpin in the second, a second time after Hopman singled, stole second and went to third on a wild pitch in the third.
The third instance came in the bottom of the ninth. With one out, Austin Ford reached on an error, stole second and went to third on a throwing error. But Hopman, who had three hits and a walk, popped out to first and Rudy Ramirez hit a long foul fly to right that Skyline’s Nate Lasinski caught to end the game.
“(Horwedel) had one good pitch that a couple lefties couldn’t touch, and that was the changeup,” Hopman said. “It was tough. We couldn’t get bats on balls when we needed to. Kids were hitting the ball in certain situations, but we couldn’t get the runs.”
“He got ahead in the count on our hitters and then pound that changeup, and we couldn’t figure it out,” said Tullar, who was 0-for-4. “He got out of a lot of situations where we could have scored. But stuff happens.”
And, as a result, Brighton’s season ended on the first day of the postseason with a glittering 26-9 record.
“I told them I appreciated their effort this year,” Christner said of the post-game huddle, “and all they’ve done this year for us and the program. The younger guys will get more chances, and for the older guys, I’m sorry. I feel bad, but it’s baseball, and when you’ve got to win one game, and it’s single-elimination, it gets real difficult.”