The Howard Huskies got solid pitching and hitting from junior Stewart Bowers as they were able to shake off a slow start and grab a 9-4 victory over Brooks County in the first game of their GHSA Class AA baseball series.
The Huskies then got another strong outing from Ches Daniel in the second game with a 12-0 win and a series sweep.
In the first game, the Huskies used a five-run fifth inning to break open a close game, taking advantage of four Brooks County errors in the inning. Bowers, meanwhile, recovered after a rocky start to limit Brooks County to only one run in the final four innings.
“I don’t know if I got stronger or not,” said Bowers who went 6-2/3 innings for his longest stint of the year. “It was kind of a touch-and-go type of game for me. At times I felt like I was throwing well, but then I would make a mistake, and they hurt me when I made mistakes. I was pretty confident that we could come back and win the game. We are a determined team, and we don’t want to lose in the first round like we did last year.
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“Losing that early has definitely been in the back of my head. I feel like we have grown up since last year and are ready to move on.”
The Huskies trailed 3-1 after three, and with Brooks County throwing its ace, Aaron Shipman, things did not look good early.
But Howard got a big hit in the fourth off the bat of Davey King, who knocked in two runs on a two-out single to tie the game.
In the fifth, Shipman was relieved after the first two batters reached, and Howard took the lead for good on Bowers’ two-run single.
Bradley Freeland and Matthew Fitzgibbons also contributed run-scoring hits in the inning. Bowers capped the scoring in the sixth with a deep home run to left field, and the Huskies had their first state playoff win in their existence.
“I’m proud of this team,” head coach Danny Slaughter said. “We set goals for this year, and the main goal was to get through the first round. Davey King had a great at-bat to tie it up, and Bowers is just a gutsy player, and we knew that we would get a great effort from him.
“I thought our aggressiveness on the bases caused them some problems, and we did a pretty good job against a great pitcher to stay in the game. We have five seniors this year, and I just think some of the experience we have gained is starting to pay off.”