BRANDON — Two teams held their customary postgame briefings on opposite fields.
The coaches had similar words for their players.
Brandon and Newsome each had chances to win, but mental lapses put both in jeopardy. These lessons are better learned in February than in May.
Ultimately, Brandon fought its way to an 8-6 win in a game it never trailed.
But the Eagles learned how tough the season will be from here on out.
They learned before the game they had lost James Ramsay (anterior cruciate ligament) and Roderick Shoulders (torn labrum) . Both will have season-ending surgery.
Then their teammates realized midway through Friday's game how much those bats had meant.
"One of them led the county in hits and average," Brandon coach Matt Stallbaumer said. "The other guy pretty much led the county in RBIs. … It just makes us have a mind-set that we have to put pressure on people and pitch consistent."
The Eagles (4-0) did just that through two innings mounting a 6-0 lead behind left-hander Austin Browder, who finished with six strikeouts, five hits and four earned runs.
But that was not before Brandon clobbered four hits and six runs in the second inning, which included a pair of key at-bats by Alex Gittens and Lenin Sanchez, who replaced Ramsay and Shoulders.
Gittens fought through a full count, walked, then scored for a 2-0 lead. Sanchez singled and scored to make it 3-0. The pair also made a couple of key defensive plays.
"There are some guys that have been here a few years that are getting an opportunity to play," Stallbaumer said. "But we definitely have some things to work on."
The turning point came when Newsome (2-3) brought in Anthony Reynoso to pitch the third inning. He struck out seven of the first eight batters and finished with eight strikeouts in three innings.
He allowed the Wolves to rally in the top of the sixth on four straight singles sparked by Jake Farley, which led to six consecutive runs to tie the game at 6.
Newsome coach Zach Walker made a pitching change in the bottom of the inning, pulling Reynoso in hopes of sparking more offense.
The hits came, the runs did not.
Instead, Brandon climbed back on top with a Sanchez single to lead off. He would later score on a wild pitch followed by Derek Dungan scoring on a passed ball for an 8-6 lead.
Newsome loaded the bases in the seventh, and with two outs Stallbaumer brought in freshman Chris Toney to record the final out on a fly out to Sanchez.
Despite the loss, Newsome walked away having learned something after losing three of its past four games.
"We might have had a little epiphany," Walker said. "We can do this. … We can beat good teams."
Izzy Gould can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 226-3458.