Tommy Bruning feeds off pressure.
The senior left-hander feels the burden on his shoulders when he takes the mound for the Bexley High School baseball team. However, carrying that load drives Bruning to pitch his best and put the Lions in position to win.Video •Watch an interview with Bexley baseball player Tommy Bruning.
"I think every athlete likes pressure," Bruning said. "When you're on the mound, the way the game goes depends on how you pitch. That can be a lot of pressure, but it also means you can control the game, and I like that."
Bruning has been successful more often than not for the Lions. He has thrown a program record seven shutouts and went 5-2 last season with a 2.85 ERA, 28 strikeouts and 17 walks in 43 2/3 innings.
"Tommy has a lot of movement on his fastball; it moves quite a bit," said coach Andrew Orlins, whose team was 10-4 overall and 2-1 in the MSL-Ohio Division before playing Grandview on April 17. "He throws a lot of strikes and pounds the zone.
"He's a left-hander and kids are not used to seeing left-handers as much. The ball moves differently than kids are used to seeing, so it is more difficult to time up and square up on balls."
Bruning has five pitches: two-seam and four-seam fastballs plus a change-up, curveball and slider. He once relied on his slider more, but has found his curveball has become more effective with a strong defense behind him.
"I'm lucky to have a good defense making plays behind me," said Bruning, who was second-team all-league last season. "We have had a good defense all four of my years. We try to play loose as a team and have fun, which helps."
Bruning not only excels on the mound, but at the plate. Last year, he led the Lions with a .429 batting average and 23 RBI.
When he's not pitching, Bruning plays in the outfield or first base.
"Tommy had a good year at the plate last season, leading us in hitting," Orlins said. "He has a good left-handed swing with good gap-to-gap power, and he has pretty good speed on the bases."
The Lions have won three consecutive MSL-Ohio championships and are in the hunt for a fourth in a row. Bruning said that is definitely a goal for the team.
"We have a lot of seniors and we all have the role of being leaders," he said. "Our goal is always to win the league and the district. We expect (the league) to be a dogfight between (Columbus) Academy, West Jefferson and us."
The Lions played Academy on April 19 in the teams' first league contest.
Bexley lost the first meeting with West Jefferson 7-4 on April 7, surrendering six runs in the top of the seventh inning. The teams play again Wednesday, April 26, at West Jefferson.
"Things always aren't going to go your way, so you have to tough it out," said Bruning, who will attend Cedarville University but won't play sports as he pursues a degree in communications. "Every day isn't always going to be your best day, especially on the mound. You have to find ways to throw strikes and get people out."
Orlins said that outlook has made a difference for Bruning, especially this season during a slow start. Through 14 games, Bruning was 1-1 with a 5.25 ERA, 10 strikeouts and six walks in 12 innings. He was hitting .267 with eight RBI and had scored nine runs.
"Tommy has a very positive attitude," Orlins said. "He doesn't get down on himself, which is important for any baseball player, especially a pitcher."
Bridge scores big for
girls lacrosse team
Senior attacker Kate Bridge had 28 goals through five games for the girls lacrosse team, which was 4-1 overall and 1-1 in the Central Independent League before playing Columbus School for Girls on April 18.
Bridge had 10 goals in a 19-10 win over Granville on April 11 in CIL play.
Bexley also defeated Hilliard Bradley 15-5 on April 4, Pickerington North 17-7 on April 8 and Dublin Scioto 15-7 on April 13. The Lions lost to Watterson 12-8 on April 6 in league play.
Senior midfielder Grace Maley had 19 goals through five games, and senior attacker Ashley Bolon had 13. Senior midfielder Olivia Anderson and senior attacker Courtney Kondracke had four goals apiece.
Freshman goalkeeper Tessa Ziegler had 33 saves.
boys lacrosse team
The boys lacrosse team had given up only 5.8 goals per game through five contests en route to a 4-1 record before playing Granville on April 19.
Senior goalie Zak Welsh, who has signed with the University of Alabama in Huntsville, had 57 saves in five games.
Senior attacker John-Michael Rogers led Bexley with 15 goals, ahead of junior attacker Owen Rupp with 14, senior attacker Eric Crane with 12 and sophomore attacker Hunter Hilgeman with five.
The Lions won their first four games, defeating Wellington 13-1 on March 29, Hilliard Darby 10-8 on March 31, Westerville South 12-6 on April 3 and Jonathan Alder 15-1 on April 7. They lost to Scioto 13-10 on April 12.