Greenville’s Charlie Braman drives home winning run in Mental Health Awareness game over Tri County

Greenville starting pitcher Andrew Caswell readies to fire a pitch in the opener of Friday’s doubleheader against Tri County at Stankey Field. Caswell struck out 11 Vikings in a complete-game effort. — DN Photo | Austin Chastain

GREENVILLE — Charlie Braman stepped into the batter’s box with a golden opportunity in front of him — one most kids dream about.

Braman saw the bases loaded full of Greenville Yellow Jackets with nobody out in a tied ballgame in the bottom of the seventh inning at Stankey Field.

In his previous three plate appearances, Braman didn’t see pitches that he wanted to go after. He struck out in the first and drew walks in the third and fifth innings. Braman launched a 0-1 pitch over the center fielder to drive in Logan Boyer and give the Yellow Jackets (2-6) the 4-3 win over the Tri County Vikings on Friday.

“I was just looking for a swing, I saw one and took my chance with it,” Braman said. “I just got the job done. … It feels good to go get that one, go out there and swing the bat and just do the rest.”

Tri County had just tied the game in the top of the sixth inning, after trailing 3-0 — a two-out rally, fueled by three errors by Nico Marquez, Caden Welch and Andrew Caswell. The errors from Marquez and Welch were both fielding errors on ground balls that hopped past their gloves, while the error from Caswell was a throwing error on a pick-off that scored Owen Behrenwald.

Prior to the sixth inning, the Vikings struggled to get base runners of any kind. Caswell, the Jacket’s starting pitcher, was dominant on the mound. He finished the game with three runs (all unearned) on two hits, no walks and 11 strikeouts in a complete-game effort.

TC started Tyler Tompkins, who went three innings, allowing one run on four hits. He walked one and struck out one. Isaiah England went the next 1.1 innings, allowing two runs on one hit with two walks. Hayden Figley was charged with the loss after going 1.2+, allowing one run on two hits, intentionally walking two and striking out one.

“We came out not super aggressive with our bats,” said TC coach Shawn Nelson. “As the game went on, we started to find our bats and hitting the ball around pretty good. We tied it up, what more can you ask for? We tied it up and made a ballgame out of it.”

Greenville jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning on a base hit by Logan Schunemann to drive into Welch. The Jackets put runners in scoring position in the second and third innings but couldn’t drive them home.

Greenville’s Logan Schunemann waits to swing at a pitch during the opener of Friday’s doubleheader against Tri County at Stankey Field. Schunemann earned two RBIs in the win. — DN Photo | Austin Chastain

Schunemann earned his second RBI of the game with a sacrifice fly to center, driving in Welch, who had an RBI in the prior at-bat to drive in Logan Boyer on a fielder’s choice with TC shortstop Nate Lovell throwing home and missing the mark for catcher Trent Behrenwald to tag Boyer.

TC made up for it in the next half inning, scoring three runs on no hits with three errors charged to the Yellow Jacket defense.

“We have a 10-second rule that says, ‘Nothing really matters after 10 seconds and you reset,'” said Yellow Jackets’ head coach Ed Milam. “They went back out and shut (TC) down and scored the run they needed, that’s a cool thing. These guys show a lot of character.”

The sixth inning of Friday’s opener was revealing for both teams. Both teams showed their true colors in the opener on Friday, each coach said. The Yellow Jackets showed the grit and determination to shake off the rough sixth inning and find the winning run, while the Vikings showed their unity to play as a united front and make the comeback to tie the game in the sixth.

“We have a slogan, ‘United We Stand,'” Nelson said. “It’s easy when you’re struggling in baseball to kind of be like, ‘OK, this is how the game is going,’ and just let it go. Fighting back and playing as a team with everybody working together. … I thought we played a real clean game, and (Greenville) is playing well.”

“They just don’t quit,” Milam said. “There’s no matter what the score is, no matter what the elements are — they just grind away and give their all and that’s wonderful to see. They’re resilient. They scrap for every little thing and give everything they go and I couldn’t ask for any more than that. It’d be easy to give up after getting the lead, then they catch back up and we get all deflated. But they rallied around each other, which is really cool.”

Tri County’s Trent Behrenwald throws back to his pitcher during the opener of Friday’s doubleheader against Greenville at Stankey Field. Behrenwald earned a base hit in the first inning of the Vikings’ 4-3 loss to the Yellow Jackets. — DN Photo | Austin Chastain

The base knock from Braman that ended the first game of Friday’s doubleheader was set up by a double from Boyer to lead off the inning. Welch was then issued an intentional walk, granting him first base. The two runners advanced on a balk from Figley. Schunemann, the Yellow Jacket at the plate, was then issued an intentional walk to load the bases with nobody out and set the stage for Braman’s winning hit.

“It’s really awesome for Charlie to be able to get up there in that kind of pressure-packed situation, with the game on the line, and hit a beautiful shot,” Milam said. “That’s good for his confidence. It’s good for the team, they’re all excited.”

The Yellow Jackets are next at Forest Hills Central at 10 am today while the Vikings’ next game is scheduled for 4 pm Tuesday at Grant.

Friday’s game served as the Mental Health Awareness game for Greenville. The players wore white jerseys with “Jackets” written in green font, the color of mental health awareness. The jerseys included a #stopthestigma on the back.

Milam is a pastor at First Congregational Church in Greenville and he said he is an advocate for mental health in today’s youth. Benefits like Friday’s game are important to him.

“Coming out of COVID, mental health has been a big issue,” Milam said. “Not just for adults, but our youth. Their school years have been messed up the last two years and there’s a lot of need for us to really focus on people’s mental health and wellness, to be part of that is pretty cool. … It’s nice to be able to help people. In the hallways of our schools, there are a lot of kids who could use that kind of help because it’s stressful being a youth these days. So, being able to ask the right questions, being able to say, ‘A kid’s not just broken, but what broke them,’ that kind of stuff and being able to love them, really help them find a positive mental spot is what this game is about. To bring awareness to the need of our youth in our community.

“I’ve been coaching since 1994. Watching these kids and taking care of them, caring for them, I hope at the end of the day they know that they matter, that we care about them more than just baseball. It’s nice to be able to impact someone’s life by being a positive influence — that’s what we try to do. We try to give them our best so they can be their best and they feel important, needed, valued. There’s so much of our world and social media and everything else that just drags people down. They need the positive, they need the uplifting stuff — that’s what we try to do.”

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