Baltimore pitcher Francis Brooke was content to throw strikes and let his defense do the rest.
The result was a 10-0, seven-inning win over New York in a AAABA tournament winner’s bracket contest Tuesday afternoon at War Memorial Field.
It was a game that saw Baltimore do everything right while New York struggled on the mound, at the plate and in the field.
Brooke stuck out two and walked one in six innings before giving way to reliever Bobby Ruse for the final frame.
Baltimore outhit New York by just a 6-5 margin. But Youse’s Orioles committed one error while the Long Island Astros had six miscues, walked seven and hit two batters.
“I have a lot of faith in my defense,” Brooke said. “If I throw strikes, especially with the wooden bats, I’m probably going to do OK.
“It was mostly fastballs to get ahead,” he added. “But I had the fastball and my slider and splitter.”
Brooke, from Washington, D.C., is a junior at Northwestern University – where he ranked second in the nation with an average of 0.71 walks per nine innings this past season.
In 891/3 innings with the Wildcats in 2010, Brooke walked just seven – one of those intentional – while striking out 48, the university’s website shows.
Brooke tied for the Northwestern team lead with five wins, including one in April at Penn State in a previous visit to the Keystone State.
Tuesday Brooke said he appreciated getting into AAABA play this summer and away from college baseball’s metal bats.
“The wooden bat makes a big difference,” Brooke said. “It’s not just that it’s wood. It’s got the smaller barrel, so it’s easier to get inside on guys.”
The righty helped his own cause by fielding two balls cleanly, covering first on a grounder to the right side and picking a runner off second.
Orioles manager Tim Norris credited his starter with pitching smart.
But that shouldn’t be a surprise.
Brooke was an academic all-Big Ten selection and was named a Big Ten Distinguished Scholar at Northwestern.
“He’s been consistent for us all season,” Norris said. “He doesn’t get rattled. He throws strikes. I’m sure he’s a pleasure to play behind.”
Offensively, Baltimore was patient at the plate and got plenty of help from New York.
Patrick Blair crushed a triple to deep left-center in the first and scored on a base hit by Benjamin Carhart.
In the second, Baltimore’s Dennis Mitchell reached on an error and moved up on a single by Harry Slade. Glynn Davis’ liner to left drove home Mitchell, and when the ball went through left fielder Warren Kelly’s legs, Slade raced all the way home from first.
The Orioles scored four runs on just one hit in the third, helped by three walks, a hit-batsman and three New York errors.
“They helped us get going,” Norris said. “We got a lot of walks, got hit by some pitches, they made some errors. And we took advantage of that.”
“We didn’t play our typical Astros baseball game, that’s for sure,” New York manager Jeffrey Rusoff said. “Usually we get a well-pitched game. Usually we play good defense. But we didn’t support our pitcher today.”
In the top of the sixth, Davis scored the eighth Baltimore run after reaching via the base on balls. He advanced on a sacrifice bunt by Christopher Cook, stole third and then came home when New York catcher Kevin Primm’s throw sailed into left field.
Three more walks helped the Orioles score twice in the seventh to end the game early.
New York pitcher Anthony Repetto hurt himself with walks but got little help from his fielders. Repetto allowed eight runs in six innings, but only two of the runs were earned.
The good news for the Astros is that they are still in the tournament – with a chance today to put the memory of the debacle at Lilly behind them.
“We’ve got to shrug this one off, reload and go out and play a better baseball game tomorrow,” Rusoff said.
Brooke, meanwhile, said he would have liked to have completed the shutout, but was content to watch his teammate close the door.
He hopes to be back on the mound Saturday – when Baltimore would be within sniffing distance of a record 27th AAABA championship.
“I’ll be ready,” he said.
Ready to throw strikes.
Smart, those Northwestern guys.