Alvirne baseball shuts down Salem in preliminary round tourney game

HUDSON – With four upsets already on the books in the preliminary round of the Division I tournament, Alvirne High School baseball coach Mike Lee needed some way to remind his seventh-seeded Broncos that the same thing could happen to them Friday if they weren’t at their best.

So, he told them the story of the Titanic.

“Everyone believed that ship was unsinkable,” Lee said. “We wanted to make sure this ship didn’t think we were unsinkable.”

Captained by starting pitcher Tyler Brown, Lee’s ship stayed afloat for at least one more day. The right-hander was dominant for seven innings as he tossed a two-hit shutout to lead Alvirne to the quarterfinals with a 7-0 win over No. 10 Salem.

Brown was pitching on eight days’ rest, but showed no signs of rust as he fanned two of the first three batters he faced, then cruised the rest of the way. Brown finished with eight strikeouts, two walks and allowed just three Blue Devils to get into scoring position.

“He pitched a shutout, so I’m not going to criticize that effort,” Lee said of Brown. “He did what he had to do. That’s not too shabby. We’ll take that anytime.”

Brown said that although Thursday’s rain-out forced him to bottle his anticipation for the playoffs for another day, he didn’t think the extra rest impacted his performance.

“I’ve been icing, but I think it would’ve been the same story (Thursday), I hope. But you never know,” said Brown, who helped himself at the plate with two runs on a single and a walk.

Brown was also aided by his defense, which didn’t commit an error in the game. In fact, Cam Blake saved Brown of a run in the third inning when he made a lunging catch going toward the fence in right field on a hit ball by Salem’s Jake White with two on and two outs. Those type of play are what Brown said makes him more comfortable on the mound.

“Throwing some support behind (Brown) – no errors–- that’s what you’ve got to do,” Lee said. “When Tyler knows they’re going do that, he’s going to put the ball in play and try to keep his pitch count down. That’s the way you want to play in the tournament.”

Alvirne will host No. 15 Timberlane at 4 p.m. in Saturday’s quarterfinal matchup. Undefeated left-hander Derek Hudson will take the ball for the Broncos.

Hudson went 2 for 3 with two runs and an RBI to lead Alvirne at the plate. Hudson was responsible for the game’s first runs in the fourth inning when he smacked an RBI triple to the center field fence to score Brown from second. Jacen Hudson singled him home two batters later to give the Broncos a 2-0 lead.

Alvirne’s bats had been held silenced by Blue Devils starter C.J. Beaulieu before the fourth, but had him well figured out by the sixth when the Broncos exploded for five runs to chase him from the game after 52?3 innings.

Brown started the inning with a leadoff single, and Derek Hudson moved him to second base when his ground ball went under the glove of second baseman Cody Soucy and into the outfield. Robbie Flohr drove Brown home when he reached on a throwing error by third baseman Matt Meisner.

After Jacen Hudson walked to load the bases, Blake drove in Derek Hudson and Flohr with a two-run single, and Jacen Hudson followed suit after an error on the throw home to extend the Alvirne advantage to 6-0.

Blake made it 7-0 Broncos when he scored on a passed ball.

Alvirne has little time to relish in its victory. As the Broncos take the field again on Saturday, expect Lee to once again remind his team of that unsinkable ship.

“Timberlane can beat anybody on a given day,” Lee said. “They’re coming in here expecting to win, so we’ve gotta bring our ‘A’ game.”