Searles doing it all for Bobcats

Published 9:13 am Thursday, May 5, 2016

Brandywine senior Cole Searles homers against Berrien Springs in a 3-0 victory in the nightcap of the BCS Athletic Conference contest. (Leader photo/AMELIO RODRIGUEZ)

Brandywine senior Cole Searles homers against Berrien Springs in a 3-0 victory in the nightcap of the BCS Athletic Conference contest. (Leader photo/AMELIO RODRIGUEZ)

Cole Searles has been a real triple threat on the baseball diamond for Brandywine High School.

That was evident Tuesday, May 2 as he helped the Bobcats sweep a BCS Conference doubleheader from visiting Berrien Springs, 2-1 and 3-0, with his bat, defense and pitching arm.

Searles, one of eight Brandywine seniors and the team’s starting shortstop and No. 5 hitter, scored the Bobcats’ first run in Game 1 and made several plays in the field, the slickest being when he ranged behind second base to snag a grounder off the bat of No. 3 hitter Brant Rago and fired to set down the Shamrocks in the first inning.

In Game 2, Searles slugged a one-out home run over the left field fence on the first pitch he saw in the fourth inning to give the Bobcats a 1-0 lead.

“(Shamrocks left-hander Bryce Evans) left it right down the middle,” Searles said. “I saw a fastball and I jumped on it. He didn’t dig too much (in his glove) for any junk so I figured it would be a fastball.”

Searles said he tried to stay back to deal with Evans’ mixture of three-quarter and sidearm deliveries.

“Cole had a pitch he could handle,” Brandywine coach David Sidenbender said of the home run. “It was up and he turned on it.”

Several people were telling Searles after the game that he missed second base on the clout. He begged to differ.

“I got the inside corner,” Searles said.

Right-hander Mark Conrad pitched the first 5 2/3 innings for Brandywine. Searles came on in relief and grunted his way through the last four outs — all strikeouts — picking up the save and helping his team move to 14-5 overall and 4-2 in the conference.

Searles said he prefers to be used in relief rather than as a starter because it’s less taxing on his arm.

“I can just rock,” Searles said of being after to go maximum effort in a short stint. “My arm will be good because it’s just a couple of innings.”

As the team’s best defender, Sidenbender likes having Searles at short.

But he’s a “difference maker” on the mound.

“He has more velocity,” Sidenbender. “He can throw harder so there probably aren’t going to be that many balls hit (to short). That’s the role I want him to take on, a closer type.”

On a day where the Bobcats stole nine bases (four by Zach Grishaber), Searles also swiped one.

“We’re just aggressive,” Searles said.

Tuesday was Brandywine’s first games on its own field. The Bobcats played “home” contests in Indiana (Bethel College, Notre Dame and Four Winds Field).

Lake Michigan Catholic is slated to come to Brandywine for a BCS Athletic Conference doubleheader Friday.



At Brandywine

First Game

Berrien Springs         010     000     0 – 1 6 1

Brandywine               000     200     x – 2 3 3

Brant Rago (L); Toby Fox (W).

2B: Scott Miller (Bw).

RBI: Miller (Bw).

Runs: Cole Searles (Bw), Chandler Plew (Bw), Noah Britt (BS).


Second Game

Berrien Springs         000     000     0 – 0 7 1

Brandywine               000     102     x – 3 5 0 

Bryce Evans (L); Mark Conrad (W), Cole Searles (6, S).

HR: Searles (Bw).

2B: Alfred Banks (BS).

RBI: Searles (Bw).

Runs: Searles, Brady Duval (Bw), Scott Miller (Bw).

Varsity records: Brandywine 14-5 (4-2 BCS), Berrien Springs 3-9 (0-4 BCS).