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Rock Bridge freshman pushes Bruins past Hickman in extra innings

Thursday, April 12, 2012 | 9:00 p.m. CDT; updated 11:22 p.m. CDT, Monday, April 16, 2012
A game-winning hit from a Rock Bridge freshman, Connor Brumfield, pushed the baseball team past Hickman when the two faced off Thursday at Rock Bridge High School. With two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning, Brumfield's hit led the Bruins to a 1-0 win over the Kewpies.

*An earlier version of this story misidentified the Bruins player involved in the seventh-inning collision at home plate. Kewpies catcher Colby Fitch collided with Bruins junior pinch runner Shelby Wilson for the final out of the seventh.

COLUMBIA — Before Rock Bridge's game against Hickman, a man working in the concession stand called to another worker, "she better get out there, because her boy's starting."

He was referring to Charlotte Brumfield, the mother of Bruins freshman center fielder Connor Brumfield.

And Connor Brumfield didn't disappoint.

With two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning and a runner on second, Brumfield, who has only been in the starting lineup for a week, stepped to the plate 0-2 on the day.

Through seven innings, Kewpies pitcher Jonathan Jones had held the Bruins to one hit before being relieved in the eighth. The game was scoreless heading into extra innings after Hickman catcher Colby Fitchcollided with Rock Bridge junior pinch runner *Shelby Wilson at home plate for the final out of the seventh.

Brumfield watched the first two pitches go by. He noticed they were slow. Then he dug in one more and cranked an RBI single into left field that pushed Rock Bridge past Hickman 1-0.

As the team rushed Brumfield to celebrate the win, the Bruin fans were on their feet and chanting "He's a freshman!"

Brumfield, whose blond hair and light blue eyes make him look young even for a freshman, was shaky and short of breath even after the team's post-game meeting.

"At the beginning of the game I was really nervous, and I was a little geezed up on a couple of those at-bats," Brumfield said. "But I evened it out and I was all right."

Before Brumfield went to bat, teammate Jansen Smith offered a few familiar words to him to help him focus.

"Ebb and flow — that's what he says," Brumfield said. "It's the moon, to you, to the ball, and you flow," Brumfield said, gesturing to each as he said it.

Smith said the phrase is a joke that he and a few other upperclassmen use with the team's two freshmen, Logan Twehous and Brumfield.

"Me, Alex Brown and Kory McDonald like to refer to Logan as ebb, and him as flow," Smith said. "It's a little goofy thing we do, but it worked. Just a little flow, get you calm, get the swing through, a little flow to the game is all we do."

This is the first time that the Bruins have ever had two freshmen on the field for varsity at the same time, Bruins head coach Justin Towe said. He was happy to see Brumfield succeed in a pressure situation.

"It would've been really easy for me to pinch hit for him on that at-bat, but he's not going to get any better if I don't let him play," Towe said. "He's been taking good at-bats every time he's started, and he's kind of solidified himself and he's just a good, solid baseball player."

With Twehous at shortstop and Brumfield in center field, the two freshmen are also an integral part of the Bruins' defense. Towe said it doesn't matter to him that they're freshmen. He just cares that they can play well.

"Coaches have confidence in them and they're good kids and they work hard and good things like that happen," Towe said. "It's fun to see. That's what high school's all about." 

Both Hickman (5-5) and Rock Bridge (10-2) play Friday night. The Kewpies face Francis Howell North for the second time this season at 5 p.m. at Hickman, while the Bruins play at 4:30 p.m. at Blue Springs South.


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