COLOMA — Buchanan’s baseball team built an early lead in Saturday’s Division 3 baseball regional final at Coloma, but struggled to get runs when it counted in the late innings of the game.

The Bucks jumped out to a second-inning lead over Bronson, but eventually fell 6-3 to the Vikings. Buchanan had at least one runner reach base in all seven innings, and stranded a total of 13 base runners throughout the game.

“It’s hard to win when you leave (13) guys on base,” said Buchanan coach Jim Brawley. “We had opportunities almost every inning I felt to get a couple (runs), and we just couldn’t get the hit when we needed it.” 

Buchanan (23-9) opened the game with a run when Brad VanOverberghe knocked a two-out double into the left-center field gap.

After Cam Lorance reached on an error that moved VanOverberghe to third, a passed ball during an at-bat by Austin Williams eventually scored VanOverberghe to give the Bucks a 1-0 lead over Bronson (29-11).

The Bucks plated another run in the top of the second after loading the bases following an infield single by Matthew Hoover and a walk by Brandon Rogers. After back-to-back players were hit by a pitch, Buchanan took a 2-0 lead.

The Bucks would fail to score again in the inning, leaving the bases loaded.

“We never think that we’re out of a game,” said Bronson coach Matt Watkins. “We have good pitching, good defense. We just need to get the timely hits and get some guys on base and we know we’re going to come through in the clutch.

“It’s all about keeping them off the bases and staying strong defensively and pitching. It was all good after that.”

Bronson did just that in the second, getting a run back in the bottom half of the inning on a solo home run to straightaway right field by Ryan Wismon.

But it was the third inning that proved to be the biggest for the Vikings.

With the bases loaded, Kameron Haviland delivered with a bases-clearing, three-RBI double that gave the Vikings a 5-2 lead. Bronson had tied the game earlier in the inning after Dylan Smith scored on a wild pitch. 

Haviland also took over on the mound for the Vikings in the middle of the second.

After pitching out of the bases-loaded jam, Haviland settled in to allow just five Bucks hits, allowing no runs and striking out seven in the process.

Buchanan’s Jacob Hoover took over for starter Gannon Kutemeier in the third, allowing Haviland’s double. From there, however, Hoover pitched a solid game. He have up just two total hits and fanned four batters in four and 2/3 innings of work.

Bronson added an insurance run in the fifth on an RBI walk by Mason Harris.

The Bucks again had opportunities in the third, sixth and seventh innings. But Buchanan would hit into an inning-ending double play in the third before leaving the bases full in the sixth and seventh innings.

“It’s tough because of how much work they put in,” said Brawley on the Bucks’ season. “We were out early in October, playing catch and stuff. They’ve worked their butts off all the time every day. When you put that kind of effort in, it’s tough to lose.”

Pewamo-Westphalia won the super regional, defeating Bronson 5-4.

Bronson 6, Buchanan 3

Buch 110 001 0 — 3 7 3

Bron 014 010 x — 6 4 1

WP — Kameron Haviland 7K. LP — Gannon Kutemeier. 

Top hitters — Buchanan: Kade Hearington RBI; Brad VanOverberghe 2b; Sam Riley 2 1b; Matthew Hoover 2 1b, RBI. Bronson: Brett Sikorski 2b; Kameron Haviland 2b, 3 RBI; Ryan Wismon HR, RBI; Mason Harris RBI. 

Records — Buchanan 23-9, Bronson 29-11.