BRANDON — Brandon's strength heading into this season was its experience — the fact that during the Eagles' run to the state semifinals last season their lineup learned it could hit its way to victory.
But with three of its top bats out with injuries, Brandon's dugout of casts and slings has been forced to reinvent itself.
Facing the possibility of three straight losses for the first time since 2006, the Eagles found a way to beat a surging Bloomingdale team Tuesday 3-2 — by not swinging the bat.
Junior leftfielder Vernon White, replacing injured first baseman Roderick Shoulders in Brandon's cleanup spot, drew a walkoff, full-count, bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the seventh inning.
"That's who we are now," Brandon coach Matt Stallbaumer said. "If we didn't have a game like this, I think we're still struggling to find out who we are."
Hits were tough to come by against Bloomingdale starter R.J. Brown, who began with four shutout innings as the Bulls (7-4), who entered the game winners of five straight, took a 2-0 lead into the bottom of the fifth.
"When I have R.J. on the mound I'm usually pretty comfortable, as comfortable as a coach can be," Bloomingdale coach Kris Wilken said of Brown, who allowed just one earned run on six hits over six innings. "But against Brandon when you roll to the top of that lineup, you never know what can happen."
Backed by seven solid innings by starter Cory Schools, Brandon (8-2) chipped away with a run in the fifth and sixth — both innings leaving a runner at second — then loaded the bases in the seventh for White, who took a close ball four just three days after he stranded the tying run at third in the seventh inning in Friday's loss to Wharton.
"I felt like our undefeated season was on our shoulders, so I swung at every pitch to put the ball in play," White said. "Up here, I wasn't as aggressive. I learned from it. We're a different team right now. We're a team that knows we have to fight more."