Pitching novice Henderson plays lock down closer for Lloyd Sixsmiths

By DN WRITING STAFF | July 21, 2023

Hard-throwing righty Andrew Brown of Lloyd Sixsmiths delivers a pitch in 18U DN World Series.

By Luis Torres

Brooks Henderson entered the game in the bottom of the seventh inning in a high-pressure situation.

Henderson’s team, Lloyd Sixsmiths, had a four-run advantage heading into the frame and looking for the final three outs against Power 5 Ballers.

The inning started off shaky, with Power 5 Ballers scoring a run and having two runners on before Lloyd Sixsmiths coach Wes Moore called on Henderson to toe the rubber.

What made it even more of a tense situation was that this was the first time in six years that Henderson had toed the rubber. He said he hadn’t pitched in a game since the 12U level. Talk about pressure.

“I haven’t pitched since 12U, so I was just trying to throw strikes for the fellas and then get out of here,” Henderson said.

While Henderson did allow two inherited runners to score, he was able to execute when it mattered most. Henderson got the final three outs, including striking out the final batter of the game, as Lloyd Sixsmiths defeated Power 5 Ballers, 5-4, in 18U Diamond Nation World Series Wood Bat play on Thursday at Diamond Nation in Flemington.

Henderson said he wasn’t nervous about pitching for the first time in six years. If he was able to come in and get the save, great. If he wasn’t able to close the game out, that was fine, too.

“I haven’t pitched since 12U, so at least I had an excuse,” Henderson quipped. “It was pretty cool to come in and throw strikes. Got a little shaky, but my guys made the plays, and we got out of there.”

Henderson’s outing was a bookend to pitcher Andrew Brown’s overpowering start.

The 6-foot-4 right-handed pitcher’s fastball touched 87 miles per hour, according to the radar gun at Diamond Nation, and was consistently in the mid-80s. The Manhattan signee tossed four innings, allowing just one hit, walking one and striking out seven on 62 pitches to earn the win.

Brown, who said he is still working back from getting Tommy John surgery as a sophomore, combined his fastball with a devastating breaking ball that buckled knees.

“I was trying to get innings under my belt,” Brown said. “I thought I would get out there and throw strikes and get guys out. That’s all I wanted to do, and have fun. My last time playing summer ball, and it’s always a good time at Diamond Nation.”

Andrew Brown’s heater touched 87 yesterday in the 18U DN World Series.

Brown got early run support when Henderson opened the scoring with a two-run single in the top of the second inning.

Lloyd Sixsmiths scored two more runs in the third inning when Nick Shiffler and Jay DeLuca hit back-to-back solo home runs. Shiffler’s was an inside-the-park home run when he hit a ball to straight-away center field.

DeLuca followed that up by cranking a blast over the left field fence.

Power 5 Baseball cut into the deficit in the bottom of the fifth, courtesy of a Derek Lanza RBI single. Power 5 Baseball chipped away even more in the bottom of the seventh when Michael Konopka laced an RBI double, which was followed up by another RBI single by Lanza.

But Henderson was able to end the game, keeping Brown’s gem of a performance intact.

“I would say I threw pretty well,” Brown said. “I had a great time. This is what I love to do. I work really, really hard, so it’s great to come out and get guys out. I have a lot of fun playing the game.”

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