Bruckner, Harrison reach Class A final
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HARRISON, N.Y. — Fresh off another seemingly-effortless complete-game gem, Max Bruckner smiled at the proposition of pitching again, albeit it in a relief role, in 48 hours as Harrison faces Byram Hills in the Section 1 championship.
“Hey, you never know,” Bruckner said with a grin. “I might start the game.”
Given the level of poise and efficiency Bruckner pitched with on Tuesday, there’s no reason to believe he couldn’t climb the mound on Thursday night at Dutchess Stadium in the Class A final. Bruckner was brilliant yet again on Tuesday, pitching a four-hitter with six strikeouts in an 8-0 rout of No. 3 Kennedy at home.
It was the second complete-game effort of the postseason for Bruckner as the senior right-hander threw just 82 pitches.
“Max is awesome and he’s been that way since sophomore year,” Harrison senior centerfielder Shang-Li Polera said. “This kid is unstoppable. He shuts everybody down and he’s not intimidated by anybody. Max just knows how to pitch.”
Bruckner looked like he barely broke a sweat against Kennedy, which surely had as much to do with early Harrison run-support as it did his own self-confidence.
The Huskies gave Bruckner a 5-0 lead before he surrendered his first hit. No. 9 hitter Matt Baker started it with a one-out RBI single off Kennedy starter Sky Bates, scoring Steven DeLeo, who led off the inning with a double.
Tyler Hart followed with a single before a two-run double by Austin Pollack. Leading 3-0, Shang-Li Polera stepped to the plate and sat on a hanging curveball, crushing it well over the fence in left for a home run.
“It was a bomb,” Pollack said. “I knew it too. I had a perfect view.”
The 5-0 lead seemed almost insurmountable at the time, even against a potent lineup like Kennedy’s. Bruckner was masterful at changing speeds and working the inside corners, and used his biting slider to get ground balls.
Harrison broke the game open in the fourth when Pollack drove in a run on a single and Raffaele Macchia singled in two more.
Bruckner hasn’t allowed an earned run in his last three starts — and only one earned run. He improved his record to 7-0 and lowered his ERA to 0.62.
“I wanted to make good pitches; be aggressive and pound the strikezone,” Bruckner said. “I like pitching against lefties, so this was actually an advantage for me.”
So will Bruckner pitch on Thursday’s? It’s unlikely he’ll start given Michael Forgione will be on normal rest. But, in a bind, don’t be shocked to see Bruckner on the mound.
“Senior year, all we’ve wanted to do is get to Dutchess,” Bruckner said. “Playing for a championship, this is what it’s all about. At the beginning of the season, this is where we wanted to be. We are here and we need to capitalize.”
Reach Kevin Devaney Jr. at firstname.lastname@example.org