WALES — Lisbon coach Randy Ridley wiped the dirt out of Hunter Brissette’s eyes after Brissette stole third base, and after that everything in Brissette’s view was clear and true.
Brissette scored the first run of the game for the Greyhounds in the fourth inning and later scored the game-winning run in the sixth frame of Lisbon’s 3-2 victory over top-seeded Oak Hill in a Class C South baseball semifinal at Fairchild Field on Saturday.
“That (dirt) actually hurt pretty bad, and I couldn’t see for a second, but then my coach helped me out by wiping it out, and then we were good after that,” Brissette said.
Fourth-seeded Lisbon (16-2) next faces second-seeded Monmouth (16-3) in the C South final at St. Joseph’s College on Tuesday.
Brissette had led off the fourth with a double and scored on a single by Levi Tibbetts, who later scored on a wild pitch to give the fourth-seeded Greyhounds a 2-0 lead.
The Raiders (15-4) came right back in the bottom of the frame against Brissette. Kyle Delano, Oak Hill’s starting pitcher, led off with a double, Grayson Letourneau then walked, and pinch runners Cooper Spencer and Aaron Ridlon came home on No. 9 hitter Maverick Swan’s double to tie the game 2-2.
“Maverick Swan’s double in the (fourth), that was a big hit,” Oak Hill coach Chad Stowell said. “Big to turn the lineup over and give us a shot with our good sticks, Gavin (Rawstron) and Trent (Drouin), up, and we just couldn’t get the one hit we needed.”
Rawstron — after walking and singling in his first two at-bats, reaching third both times — lined out to Lisbon shortstop Nick Ferrence, and Drouin reached on an error for his third time on base. Brissette got out of the jam the same way he did in the first and third innings: Strikeout of Isaac Morissette, intentional walk of Ethan Vattaso, strikeout of Sam Lindsay.
“I need to get the first one out on strikes, that’s what I was thinking,” Brissette said. “I was thinking I needed the strikeout there, big spot. And then with one out we could have had a double play. Their four hitter (Vattaso), I know him from a team I play with, so I know he’s a good hitter, so putting him on I think was the right decision. And I just wanted to get through it, battled through adversity and I got it done.”
Brissette and Ridley were on the same page about giving Vattaso the free pass each time.
“Twice it was a tough decision to make, but I’m like, ‘No, we’re going to do it.’ Hunter felt more comfortable doing it that way, so I’m like, ‘Hey, I’ll lean on you, you want to do that, we’ll do it,’” Ridley said. “But the next couple times we did it, but he feels very, very confident as a pitcher and as a player to know what he’s got to do on the mound.”
Brissette pitched a 1-2-3 bottom of the fifth to complete his day on the mound. He scattered four hits, struck out 10 and issued the two unintentional walks.
He was the tiebreaker at the plate in the top of the sixth, leading off and reaching on an error. He stole second, moved to third on Neil LaRochelle’s sacrifice bunt and scored on a balk.
Delano hit the final two batters he faced, and Vattaso came on in relief. Delano struck out four and allowed four hits, and no walks, in 5 1/3 innings on the mound.
Vattaso recorded both outs to get out of the jam, catching a liner then getting under a pop fly.
“Ethan, that’s kind of been his role over the playoff run that we’ve been on, is he’s been able to come in and throw strikes and pitch to our defense,” Stowell said. “Our defense is usually pretty strong in the infield, and he was able to come in and not only throw some really effective pitches but play defense on the line drive back to him. That was a big out and gave us an opportunity to come back in the game. We just couldn’t get the hit when we needed to.”
Ferrence pitched the final two innings for Lisbon. He had a 1-2-3 sixth, then Morissette led off the bottom of the seventh by reaching on a Brissette error at shortstop. Vattaso then grounded to Ferrence, who turned around and fired to Brissette for the force out at second, but Brissette’s off-balance throw to first was short, allowing Vattaso to reach. Vattaso stole second and moved to third on a balk, but Ferrence struck out the final two batters to end the game.
Ridley called Ferrence a tough kid on a team full of mentally-tough players.
“These kids live for this,” Ridley said. “They love these moments, and they can’t wait for more of them.”