Surfin’ Turfs go 4-2 in week four, clinch playoff berth

by Eric Vah

Photo courtesy of Grant Gursky. 

The Surfin’ Turfs played six games in six days in the fourth week of the summer 2024 season and went 4-2, with one loss to open and close out the week, respectively, and a four-game winning streak in between. 

Brunswick closes out week four with a 16-4 record and a 9-3 division record, clinching a playoff berth after defeating the Sandhills Bogeys (11-9, 7-5 division) 4-2 Saturday at Dempsey Diamond at Sandhills Bogeys Stadium after scoring two runs in the ninth inning. 

The wild week was highlighted by a go-ahead grand slam from infielder Kaden Swaim (Cleveland Community College) versus the Burlington Sock Pups on the road, which put the Surfin’ Turfs up 7-6 in the seventh inning. 

Infielder Tristan Hunt (Coker University) had a standout week, with four multi-hit games including three games with at least three hits and four stolen bags. 

On the mound, right-handed pitcher Nick Randall (North Georgia) came in against Burlington and delivered four shutout innings to complement the hot batting late for Brunswick in that game, proving to be the standout performance on the mound for the Surfin’ Turfs this past week. 

Versus Sanford Spinners (June 18)

Despite the Surfin’ Turfs getting the best of the Spinners the first two times, Sanford came into Tuesday’s contest with a chip on its shoulder. 

The Spinners defeated Brunswick 7-4 at Founders Field thanks to a grand slam from former USC Upstate infielder Pierce Bouwman in the second inning and hot batting from the rest of Sanford’s lineup. 

In the game, the Spinners recorded 11 hits with designated hitter Coleman McGinnis (UNC Asheville), center fielder Will Newton (Stonehill) and left fielder Christian Grino (San Diego) amassing two hits each on the night. 

Meanwhile, the Surfin’ Turfs were led by Will Lafferty (Marshall), who had two RBI and finished 1-for-3, as well as Hunt, the leadoff hitter, who hit 3-for-5. 

On the mound, Sanford starter Ethan Levy (Catawba Valley Community College) set the tone for the game, giving up three hits and two runs, with one earned, while fanning three and walking four in four and two-thirds innings, allowing the Spinners to take a commanding 6-0 lead in the fourth. 

After Brunswick starter Cam Jernigan (Brunswick Community College) allowed six earned runs with four strikeouts and five walks in four innings of work, the relief pitchers came in and put out Sanford’s flames, as Cale Beckman (Viterbo), Alex Simmons (USC Union)  and Adam Olson (Viterbo) struck out a combined six batters while only giving up one run. 

The Surfin’ Turfs chipped away at Sanford’s lead thanks to strong pitching from the bullpen and smart decisions from the base runners. 

Brunswick scored its first run off a Lafferty sacrifice fly in the fourth, then Hunt scored on a passed ball in the fifth, cutting the Spinners’ lead to five runs, 7-2. 

In the sixth with the score still 7-2, first baseman Ellis Windheim (Gaston College) flew out to right field, but right fiedler Jordan Overton (Iona) was able to score after tagging up, giving the Surfin’ Turfs signs of life late. 

In the eighth, Brunswick continued to claw its way back after Lafferty had a line drive RBI single, scoring catcher Brenner Gursky (Brunswick Community College), and more importantly, cutting the lead down to only three runs, 7-4. 

With the Surfin’ Turfs threatening to rally, Sanford closer Nate Galloway (Wake Tech Community College) had other plans, stepping up to the hill in the ninth and delivering a 1-2-3 inning to get the save on the night and clinch an impressive upset win for the Spinners. 

Versus Sandhills Bogeys (June 19)

The first meeting between the Surfin’ Turfs and Bogeys this season saw the first eight innings go back and forth, but a three-run ninth inning proved to be the difference for Brunswick. 

The Surfin’ Turfs defeated Sandhills 8-4 Wednesday at Dempsey Diamond at Sandhills Bogeys Stadium in a bounce-back effort to improve to 13-3 overall and 8-2 in division play. 

The first eight innings saw each team trade blows, with left fielder Reco Coney (East Georgia Community College) hitting a two-run homer and center fielder Jake Holler (Frederick Community College) hitting a solo home run for the Bogeys to keep them within striking distance. 

Both Holler and Coney finished 1-for-4 on the night, but came through with some critical runs. 

With Brunswick leading 5-4 with two outs in the top of the ninth, the Surfin’ Turf’s bats caught fire at the perfect time. 

Sandhills pitcher Ethan Willis (UVA-Wise) walked back-to-back hitters, setting up Overton to hit a two-run single, giving the Surfin’ Turfs some breathing room and a 7-4 lead. Overton went 2-for-3 with a double and two RBI. 

Moments later with the bases loaded, Hunt came in and delivered another RBI single, scoring Overton with Lafferty being tagged heading to home plate. However, Brunswick came up clutch and had an 8-4 lead heading into the bottom of the ninth. 

Hunt batted 2-for-5 with an RBI and a walk in the game, while Lafferty also went 2-for-5 with an RBI and a double. 

Surfin’ Turfs right handed pitcher Austin Long (USC Upstate) closed out the game on the mound, delivering a strikeout and a walk and giving up no hits to seal a gutsy win for Brunswick. 

The pitching staff held their own throughout, with Thayer Tavormina (USC Upstate) striking out five and walking one while only allowing one earned run in four innings pitched, and Olson adding a strikeout in his one inning of work. 

The Surfin’ Turfs had three extra-base hits on the night, with shortstop Nick DiSanti recording a double alongside Overton and Lafferty. 

For the Bogeys, right fielder Finley Spicer (St. Scholastica) and first baseman Cameron Combs (Bellarmine) led the way with each going 2-for-4, with Combs adding an RBI as well. Second baseman Hunter Huneycutt (Appalachian State) added a double, which was the third extra-base hit for Sandhills and catcher Josh Zambito (St. Andrews) showed great discipline drawing three walks. 

Bogeys right handed pitcher Nick Duncan (Bluefield) pitched in six innings and had two strikeouts, one walk and three runs and one earned run allowed.

Versus Clinton Royals (June 20)

Just a few hours after the 2024 summer solstice, Brunswick, playing as its alter ego, the Brunswick Shrimpin’ Grits, got hot in the third inning and held onto the lead to defeat the Clinton Royals for the third time this season. 

The Shrimpin’ Grits beat the Royals out of the Southeastern Baseball League 8-6 in seven innings Thursday at Founders Field in a game that saw 10 combined runs in the third inning, with Brunswick scoring seven of them. 

Catcher Zack Counts (Gordon State College) and Lafferty led the way for the Shrimpin’ Grits, as Counts went 2-for-3 with three RBI, while Lafferty went 2-for-3 with a walk. Windheim, playing the cleanup hitter, went 1-for-4 with two RBI. 

Meanwhile, third baseman Angel Ortega went a perfect 4-for-4 at the plate for Clinton, and designated hitter Alvin Paulino hit a base-clearing double in the third to give the Royals a 3-1 lead. 

With Brunswick trailing 3-1, Windheim’s two-run single got the scoring onslaught started in the third for the Shrimpin’ Grits, scoring leadoff hitter Hunt and right fielder Landon Everhart (Brunswick Community College), who represented the tying run. 

Designated hitter Hudson Brannon (Francis Marion) followed that up with an RBI single of his own, which scored Lafferty and gave Brunswick the lead, 4-3. However, the Shrimpin’ Grits were not done there. 

Brannon as well as third baseman Davis Gore (Belmont Abbey) scored off a two-run single from Counts as Brunswick’s lead ballooned to 7-3 with no outs. 

Utility player LeFrederick Wooten (Carolina Rays) scored the final run of the inning after Counts tried to steal second base and ran back to first after Royals pitcher Biz Ortis (Fayetteville Tech Community College) tried to get him out at first. Wooten went 1-for-2 with a double and a walk and scored two runs. 

After two quick innings, Clinton made things interesting in the sixth, scoring three runs with two outs. 

Leadoff hitter Jabari Lee drew a walk with one out, then second baseman Preston Kennedy drew a walk as well, which set up Ortega to record an RBI single and his fourth base hit of the game.

Lee scored off the RBI single from Ortega, then Kennedy and Ortega scored off a two-run single from first baseman Sebastian Benitez (Fayetteville Tech Community College) and suddenly the Shrimpin’ Grits’ lead was cut down to only two runs, 8-6. 

Everhart moved from right field to the mound, replacing left handed pitcher Nick Graney (Brunswick Community College), and got Brunswick out of the inning despite the bases being loaded. In addition, Everhart was able to close it out in the seventh despite giving up a double from catcher Hunter Baldree, fanning Kennedy to seal a gritty victory for the Shrimpin’ Grits. 

Versus Burlington Sock Pups (June 21)

Facing a 6-3 deficit, the Surfin’ Turfs turned to a familiar face to help turn the tides and take control in the seventh inning. 

The Brunswick Surfin’ Turfs mounted an improbable comeback defeat over the Burlington Sock Pups 9-6 Friday at Burlington Athletic Stadium thanks to a seven-run seventh inning capped off by a go-ahead grand slam from first baseman Swaim, who finished 1-for-5 on the day with four RBI. 

The Surfin’ Turfs did what they have done all season, catching fire at the plate in critical situations to lift them over the top. 

On the night, the leadoff hitter Hunt had another outstanding performance, going 3-for-4 at the plate, and Windheim and Overton also recorded multiple hits for Brunswick. 

Randall picked up the win for the Surfin’ Turfs in relief duty, pitching four shutout innings, while Sock Pups pitcher Cody Mahaffey (Louisburg College) took the loss, pitching in two-thirds of an inning and giving up seven runs, two earned runs, five hits, one strikeout and two walks. 

However, starting pitcher Brady Tucker had a solid showing on the hill for Burlington, fanning two and only giving up three hits and no runs in four innings of work. On the other hand, Beckman got the start for the Surfin’ Turfs and allowed five hits and three runs, with two earned in four innings. Beckman also had five strikeouts and three walks. 

The start of the game was in sharp contrast to how the game ended, with Sock Pups designated hitter Sam Norton (Guilford Technical Community College) hitting a solo home run to left field to draw first blood in the bottom of the second. Norton went 1-for-5 in the game. 

A single from center fielder Jack Beck in the third extended the lead to 2-0. Beck went 2-for-5 with an RBI. Burlington got its third run from a sacrifice fly from third baseman Ethan George (Guilford Technical Community College) in the fourth. 

With the Sock Pups gradually building up the lead, they went off for three runs in the fifth thanks to an RBI single from catcher Benjamin Anderson (Salisbury) and a two-run double from shortstop Blake Freeman, pushing the lead to 6-0 for Burlington. 

Freeman, the number nine batter in the lineup, went 2-for-5 with two RBI. However, things took a turn for the worst for the Sock Pups in the seventh. 

Leading comfortably 6-0, suddenly everything changed when Brunswick got the bases loaded, which set up an RBI single from Windheim, which would ultimately flip the game upside down. Windheim, batting ninth in the order, went 2-for-4 on the night. 

Hunt then delivered the second consecutive RBI single for the Surfin’ Turfs, followed by second baseman Kyle Robitzsch (North Georgia) grounding one and reaching on an error from first baseman Cade Horton (West Alabama), which allowed Gursky to score and cut their deficit to 6-3. 

Hunt went 3-for-4 on the night, while Robitzsch went 0-for-5 but had an RBI which set up the Swaim grand slam, the play that changed the complexity of the game. 

With the bases loaded and Swaim behind in the count with no balls and two strikes and two gone, Swaim hammered one to left field, and there was no doubt about it. Swaim hit not only his second homer of the season, but delivered a go-ahead grand slam with the Surfin’ Turfs’ backs against the wall. 

Out of nowhere, with Brunswick leading 7-6, it had some breathing room to take its foot off the gas, as Randall came in and allowed only one hit in the bottom of the seventh, which set up another defining moment of the game in the top of the eighth. 

With two outs and two runners on base, third baseman Branton Jernigan (UNC Greensboro) delivered a two-run triple to center field as the Surfin’ Turfs led 9-6. It was Jernigan’s only hit of the night, but it came in the biggest stage of the game when Brunswick was looking to add some insurance runs. 

With the Surfin’ Turfs still leading 9-6 in the bottom of the ninth, Randall struck out one and Hunt had a game-ending double play, showcasing his skills both at the plate and on the field as Brunswick sealed a come-from-behind 9-6 win to improve to 15-3 on the season. 

Versus Sandhills Bogeys (June 22)

With a playoff berth in sight, the Surfin’ Turfs, repping their alter ego the Shrimpin’ Grits for the second time this week, got hot at the right time once again. 

The Shrimpin’ Grits defeated the Sandhills Bogeys 4-2 Saturday at Dempsey Diamond at Sandhills Bogeys Stadium behind a two-run ninth inning and Olson closing it out on the mound. It was Brunswick’s second win over Sandhills this week, but this win feels a bit sweeter. 

With the win, the Shrimpin’ Grits clinched a playoff berth for the season. Through the first half of the season, Brunswick led the Southeastern Division, earning itself a spot in the postseason this summer. 

The Shrimpin’ Grits were tied at two apiece with the Bogeys in the ninth but broke the tie thanks to Lafferty getting hit by the pitch from right-handed pitcher Caden Letcher (Ottawa University), which scored Robitzsch. 

Then, pinch runner Brandon Bannerman (Longwood) scored on a wild pitch with outfielder Matt DiSanti (Finger Lakes Community College) at the plate. 

With Brunswick leading 4-2 in the bottom of the ninth, Olson was not phased by the road environment or letting the Bogeys load the bases. 

Olson fanned one batter and a flyout from catcher Charlie Muniz (University of the Cumberlands) with two outs sealed not only the win for the Shrimpin’ Grits, but their postseason fate as well, as they won in dramatic fashion on the road.  

Versus Sandhills Bogeys (June 23)

Fresh off a big win over the Bogeys the night before, the Surfin’ Turfs could not replicate that same magic at home versus Sandhills. 

The Bogeys defeated Brunswick 14-6 in eight innings Sunday at Founders Field thanks to a nine-run sixth inning in which each batter in the lineup scored a run. It was Sandhills’ first win over the Surfin’ Turfs this season. 

It was a game in which everything seemed to be going right for Sandhills, which scored 14 runs off 16 hits, while Brunswick only scored six runs on six hits. 

After the first four innings went back-and-forth, the Surfin’ Turfs opened the game up with a three-run fifth inning. Lafferty, the cleanup hitter, had a leadoff single, then Gore and Everhart worked walks which loaded the bases. 

Bannerman, the last batter in the order was hit by a pitch from left hander Jacob Wells, which drove in a run and Lafferty and set up a two-run double from leadoff man Hunt and all of a sudden, Brunswick seemed to be riding in the driver’s seat comfortably, leading 6-2. 

However, the Bogeys had other plans. 

Despite Holler grounding out to third to start the sixth, Sandhills started to find its groove by continuously finding ways to get runners on base. 

With the bases loaded and the Bogeys down 6-4, Muniz, the designated hitter, was locked in and ripped a flyball to deep left field. Everyone knew the moment the bat cracked, Muniz had delivered a go-ahead grand slam just like Swaim did versus the Sock Pups, and the Bogeys flipped the game on its head, leading 8-6 with only one out. 

Muniz, who holds the University of the Cumberlands all-time school record for most career homers with 59, went 2-for-4 with the aforementioned home run and a double he had in the fifth. 

Cleanup hitter Caden Petrey (University of the Cumberlands) followed that up with a double, then a couple more base hits were added as the Bogeys looked like they were never going to cool down, piling on the score in the sixth. 

Finally, right-handed pitcher Landon Deese (Lander University) came in relief of Wooten on the mound and finally stopped the bleeding but not before the Bogeys led 11-6 heading into the bottom of the sixth. From that point on, the game was all Sandhills. 

Hunt had another base hit in the eighth, but it was not enough to match the firepower the Bogeys had all evening, as three more runs were scored after the nine-run outburst in the sixth from Honeycutt, Holler and first baseman Brendan McKelvey (Iowa Lakes Community College). 

On the mound, Wells was phenomenal for Sandhills, pitching four innings and having threes across the board, with three strikeouts, three walks, three hits and three earned runs, but most importantly, he contained an offense that has been stellar all season. 

Starter and right hander Timothy Pate (Brunswick Community College) also pitched four innings and had three strikeouts as well with five walks on only three hits with two unearned runs and one earned run. Overall, it was a very solid performance for the Bogeys’ starter. 

Sandhills had four players with multiple hits and three with at least three hits. Holler and Petrey went 3-for-5 and McKelvey went 3-for-4 with a double and three RBI. In addition, six of the 16 hits for the Bogeys were extra-base hits. 

For Brunswick, Hunt led the way going 3-for-5 with a two-run double and two stolen bases, with Everhart, Lafferty and Counts each adding a base hit of their own. 

Starter and righty pitcher Sean Smith (UNC Greensboro) had another excellent game, fanning six and walking two while only giving up two earned runs on four hits in four innings of work, but it was not enough to propel the Surfin’ Turfs. 

Despite the setback, it was still a phenomenal week for Brunswick, clinching a playoff berth and pulling off several impressive close wins on the road, including two at Sandhills, with a four-game winning streak sprinkled in between. The future is still looking very bright for the Surfin’ Turfs this season. 

Up Next

After playing six games in six days this past week, the Surfin’ Turfs will get four days off before they host the Clinton Royals Thursday at 6 p.m. Then, they get two days off due to the Old North State League All-Star Game before they host the Burlington Sock Pups Sunday at 5 p.m. 

It will be the fourth meeting versus the Royals and the second meeting versus the Sock Pups. All games will be streamed on the Foul Pole Sports Network.