By Mike Fields
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Brossart has 162 boys in its high school while St. Xavier, an all-boys’ school, has nearly 10 times that enrollment.
But Brossart won the numbers game in the quarterfinals of the Kentucky National Insurance/KHSAA State Baseball Tournament, shocking third-ranked St. X, 5-3 at Whitaker Bank Ballpark on Wednesday night.
The Mustangs did it in dramatic fashion, rallying for four runs in the bottom of the sixth inning.
“I know it’s David vs. Goliath in school size and stuff, but these guys know we can play with anybody,” Brossart coach Ron Verst said. “Nothing fazes them. That’s the confidence they have right now.”
Nate Verst, a sophomore right-hander, ran his record to 10-0 with his first complete game of the season. He surrendered three runs in the fourth, but tamed the Tigers the other six innings.
“He’s a gamer, a battler,” Ron Verst said of his cousin, who rested a sore arm for most of the last month.
Brossart, making the most of its first state tournament appearance, got a run in the fourth on Nate Verst’s single and Trevor Bezold’s double.
The Mustangs’ game-winning rally came in the sixth.
Jared Hahn drew a lead-off walk, and Zach Fardo singled with one out. Tanner Norton, who’s batting .425, showed off his left-handed stroke by lacing a double to left that drove in two runs to tie it.
“I was thinking curveball all the whole way and just tyring to hit one back up the middle,” Norton said.
Britt then intentionally walked Bezold to get to Bobby Roderick, but the strategy failed when Roderick singled home Norton with the go-ahead run.
Roderick said his heroics were no big deal. “I just got a first-ptich fastball right down the middle and I drove it like I always do.”
Brossart tacked on an insurance run with two outs when Erik Rieger singled to drive in Bezold.
Nate Verst finished off St. X in the seventh, setting the Tigers down 1-2-3.
Verst got a spectacular defensive play by right-fielder Corey Kramer in the second. With a runner at second, St. X’s Zach Montgomery hit a towering shot to the gap, but Karmer chased it down and made a circus catch with his back to the infield to prevent a run.
Norton, a junior catcher, wasn’t surprised by the Mustangs’ stirring comeback.
“As long as we keep fighting, keep our heads in the game, we can win any game no matter how much we’re down,” he said.
Norton didn’t consider the victory an upset, either.
“Not at all,” he said. “As long as we come prepared, we can beat anybody.”
Nate Verst, on the other hand, grudingly admitted to being mildly surprised that the Mustangs have galloped into the semifinals.
“It feels amazing that we got the ‘W’,” he said.
ST. XAVIER 000-300-0--3 5 0
BROSSART 000-104-X-- 5 6 2
WP: N. Verst (10-0). LP: Britt (8-1). HITTING LEADERS: B--Norton 2B, 2 RBI; Bezold 2B. SX--Mercer 2-3; Clemons 2B; Britt 2B; 2 RBI. RECORDS: Brossart 27-12, St. Xavier 30-12.
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