Bobcats celebrate 25 yearsPublished 8:35pm Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Twenty-five years ago Wednesday, the Brandywine Bobcats baseball team captured the Class C state championship with a come from behind victory over, 8-5, at Kobs Field on the campus of Michigan State University.
This past Saturday, several members from that team, their coaches and their families got together at Riverfront Cafe to reminisce and celebrate the silver anniversary of the schools first state championship, and the only championship in boys athletics in school history.
“Unfortunately, it was only a one-time experience,” championship coach Chuck Hurdle said. “It would have been nice to get it the next year as well when we were rated No. 1 all year, but it was a fantastic season. We had some fantastic players, which made it easy, and I had some great coaches helping me out. It was a really nice experience.”
The 1987 Bobcats had kind of flown under the radar all season as they headed to the MHSAA state playoffs with a 17-7 record, but finished 24-7.
“We were never ranked that season, and we were always the underdog,” continued Hurdle. “We were never favored going into a game and I think that fired up the guys.”
The Bobcats had a bye in the first round of the district tournament before facing Buchanan, Watervliet and River Valley on their way to the schools first district championship in 14 years.
In the regional round, Brandywine outlasted Parchment 6-4 before beating Union City 5-1 for the championship and a spot in the semifinals.
In the semifinals, the Bobcats faced Pewamo-Westphalia. Once again Brandywine was the underdog, and once again it found a way to win as it edged the Pirates 2-1 to advance to the championship game.
The Bobcats were the underdog again heading into the title game as Coleman came into the contest with a 28-2 record, while the Bobcats came in at 23-7, which at the time was the school record for wins in a season.
Brandywine found itself in a 3-0 hole after the first inning, and trailing 5-2 in the third.
A homerun by Scott Dunning in the fourth inning tied the game at 5-5 and an RBI double by Tim Yoder in the fifth gave the Bobcats the lead and eventually the state championship.
Hurdle earned Coach of the Year honors that season, and his coaching decisions were never more noticeable than in that championship game.
Pitchers were allowed to throw no more than 10 innings over the course of the semifinals and finals and star pitcher Jeff Hatch used six of his innings in the semifinals.
Knowing he only had Hatch for 12 outs, Hurdle used his ace in crucial situations throughout the championship game, making eight pitching changes throughout the course of the game and calling on his star hurler when the team needed the outs the most.
“That last game I had 12 outs that Jeff could use and I used every single out that he had,” Hurdle recalled. “Jeff was a fantastic player for us that year and a fantastic pitcher and he got the big outs for us when we needed them.”
Video of the state championship game was projected on the wall while players and coaches laughed, talked and joked around with each other. Stories were told, memories were shared and a scrapbook highlighting the season was passed around for everyone to see.
“Those guys refused to lose,” Hurdle said. “They made plays when they needed to.”
After the championship game coach Hurdle was quoted as saying “It’s been a team effort all year. I just can’t say enough about this team. Different guys came through at different times. We had to come from behind in every tournament. It hasn’t been easy, but it was sure worth it.”