BRANDON — Going into a district matchup with Strawberry Crest, Brandon coach Matthew Stallbaumer knew his players would have to be on their toes against a defense known for being stingy.
Mark Moclair took the mound for the Chargers, fresh off a no-hitter he pitched against Plant City just more than a week ago, and he made it tough for Brandon, which left a runner stranded on third base twice.
But the moment the Chargers defense faltered, Brandon (9-6, 5-1) was in the right place to take advantage, scoring its only two runs on a throwing error in a 2-1 Class 7A, District 7 victory over Strawberry Crest (11-6, 4-2) on Friday night.
“One way or another, we find a way to scratch out runs here and there,” said Jordan Feist, who scored the winning run. “But it’s pretty easy to do that when you know you’re going to be in the ball game with Ryan Anderson pitching the way he did today.”
Anderson, who has also hit a county-high three home runs, pitched a complete game, giving up just two hits and striking out five.
Anderson said he knew it was going to be a pitchers’ duel before the first pitch, but he said it was a challenge he was more than ready to accept.
“It’s pretty fun because you get to show off all your stuff,” Anderson said. “You know your team’s got you, you’ve just got to throw strikes. That’s the easy part.”
The Chargers’ Moclair found that task to be a simple one, too. The junior struck out four and gave up just three hits.
Feist got the first hit of the night for Brandon in the second inning, and in the sixth, after Troy Linderman reached on a Strawberry Crest error, Feist doubled to put runners on second and third.
This time they wouldn’t be stuck there, as both scored on a Chargers throwing error later in the inning.
First baseman Jake Ralyea scored a run for Strawberry Crest on a sacrifice fly in the seventh, but it wouldn’t be enough.
Brandon had lost its last three games by a total of four runs, so the Eagles knew what it was like to be in a close game till the end.
This time, though, they were happy to reverse the outcome.
“I think sometimes we get in our heads a little bit about getting hits when we need hits,” Stallbaumer said, “so it was finally good to play in a close game and win one.”