Buffalo Meridian Medicine built a 1-0 lead against four-time defending AAABA Tournament champion Baltimore on Thursday.

But then lightning and rain interrupted the elimination game at Point Stadium for three hours.

And when the weather cleared, things looked significantly brighter for Youse’s Maryland Orioles, as Ryan Brecko gave up only one hit in eight innings of relief while striking out nine to earn the victory, helping eliminate Buffalo 5-1.

The right-hander got ahead in the count against all but two of the batters he faced, tossing 69 strikes out of 102 pitches.

“That was one of the finest pitching performances I have ever seen anywhere at any level,” Buffalo manager Tom Small said. “He was really amazing.”

Baltimore manager Dean Albany agreed.

“Brecko was huge,” Albany said. “We had him scheduled to pitch (today), but with the rain delay and (starter Zach Umberger) throwing an inning, we weren’t going to send him back out there.”

The top of the order did most of the damage for the Orioles. No. 2 hitter L.J. Hoes went 2-for-4 with a walk and three runs driven in, including a third-inning single that scored Kyle Davis and Chris Jackson to give Baltimore a 2-1 lead. Jackson, the leadoff batter, was 3-for-5 with a two-run triple in the eighth.

“It felt like the whole game was an accident waiting to happen, then Jackson got the big hit over the center fielder’s head, drove in two runs,” said Albany. “Other than Jackson and L.J. Hoes, the rest of the team just didn’t have a good approach at the plate. Hopefully we’ll get better at the plate because if we don’t, we won’t be around much longer, that’s for sure.”

The Buffalo pitching staff proved adept at working out of jams, stranding 10 base runners.

Starter Alex Shaw took the loss, giving up two runs on five hits and four walks in 5 2⁄3 innings. James Piazza went 12⁄3 innings, yielding three runs on two hits and three walks.

Peter Lusk provided the only Buffalo run with an RBI ground-out in the first.

“Our pitchers did a nice job,” Small said. “Keep the ball in the ballpark against them and hold them to seven hits, and you give yourself a chance.

“They’re always good – obviously the perennial favorite here, it seems, or at least one of the favorites. We’re going to stay after this until we get them one of these times. They’re always gracious winners, so I hope someday I get a chance to enjoy them being gracious losers. I wish them well.”

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