Streaking Middletown baseball shows no mercy against Brunswick

MIDDLETOWN – Fifteen days ago, the Middletown baseball team took its last loss, an error-laden game against Brunswick in which the Knights felt they were flat in all areas of the game.

Since then, Middletown has rattled off eight straight wins, playing cleaner defense and bringing more energy on the bench and at the plate. No game in that streak felt more triumphant than Thursday’s rematch with the Railroaders.

The Knights put together one of their most complete efforts of the season, taking advantage of a series of Brunswick miscues en route to a 10-0 home win that ended by mercy rule after five innings.

“I feel like as a team, we became more united after that loss,” Middletown shortstop Dylan Leadbetter said. “We just really wanted to beat this team.”

The Knights felt they let that earlier game against the Roaders slip away, and they attributed some of their early ups and downs to complacency.

“We’re just realizing we can’t just roll over and show up and beat everybody,” Middletown right-hander Tyler Haupt said. “We have to actually show up, put 100 percent into every game.”

Haupt has been one of the best examples of that mindset during this surge.

The senior started Thursday and allowed one hit or less for his third consecutive appearance, as he was part of two no-hitters last week. Haupt fanned 10 Brunswick batters in 4 2-3 scoreless innings, ceding the final out to fellow right-hander Preston Yost on both pitchers’ Senior Day.

“Coach [Andy] Baker’s just calling great pitches every single time. I only shook him once. You don’t see that from every coach,” Haupt said. “Just executing my pitches, trusting every pitch that I can throw it for a strike.”

The Knights (11-3) backed him up by plating runs in each of the four innings they stepped to the plate. They exploded for six runs and sent 10 hitters to the plate in the fourth inning, making the Roaders (13-2) pay for committing four errors in the frame.

It was almost an inverse of that contest in Brunswick two weeks ago.

“Today may have been our best,” Baker said. “We squeaked a couple hits in, we didn’t hit a ton of balls real hard, but we put the ball in play and we limited our strikeouts.”

Every Middletown starter reached base at least once, led by Leadbetter and right fielder Joey Nicholson getting on all three times. Both drilled a pair of singles as Leadbetter drove in two runs, while Nicholson had one RBI.

First baseman Brett Lucas also had two RBIs, one on a first-inning single and one on a fourth-inning sacrifice fly. Fredy Diaz, Hunter Barnes and Cory Godlove each drove in a run. Keller Routzahn scored twice.

Willie Frye had Brunswick’s lone hit, a third-inning single to the left-center field gap. Otherwise, the Roaders couldn’t muster much against the Knights, who won their fourth game in as many days as they seem to be peaking entering the final days of the regular season.

“It’s not about the other team. It’s about us … and we think the team that can beat us is ourselves,” Baker said. “The weather’s gotten warm, and our guys are getting a little more comfortable in the box, hitting better. Pitchers throwing better, getting into a little rhythm, a little routine.”