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Tigers claim third place with six-run third
Those innings that seemingly will never end.
The Central baseball team was on the wrong side of one Saturday in its loss to Jackson.
On Monday night, the Tigers put one of those innings together in a 9-4 victory against Dexter in the third-place game of the SEMO Conference baseball tournament.
Central hammered out six hits and took advantage of one error in putting six runs across the plate in the bottom of the third inning. The inning, which could have been slowed by a couple of defensive plays, broke open what had been a 3-3 game.
And unlike Saturday, when Central came all the way the back from its deficit, Dexter had no answer against Tigers ace Brad LaBruyere.
The Tigers, who were seeded second, improved to 12-8 on the season.
But the one bad inning Saturday -- when they surrendered nine runs in an 11-10 loss to Jackson -- kept the Tigers in the bleachers Monday night at Capaha Field.
"That happens," Central coach Steve Williams said. "We didn't play well Saturday and we didn't deserve to win. We played with a better effort and showed a lot of character tonight."
In particular, the Tigers provided an offensive pick-me-up when LaBruyere was struggling. And they did it without No. 3 hitter Alex Shell, the starting catcher who missed the game due to illness.
That put Joe Uhls behind the plate. Uhls, who had been in the designated hitter role recently for the Tigers, chipped in with two hits, including a smash double down the left-field line that drove in one run in the big inning.
Garrett Stevens, Chris Brotherton and Kory Kitchen each singled to lead off the bottom of the third inning, loading the bases. Eric Ennis followed with a hard-hit grounder to short that was booted into center field, allowing two runs to score.
Uhls followed with a smash through the third baseman that drove in Kitchen and sent Ennis to third. Nick Allen walked, and Matt Hester singled in two runs. Blake Slattery followed with a single to drive in Allen for the sixth run in the inning.
"We have several hitters who are swinging the bats pretty good," Williams said. "Matt Hester is starting to come around; Blake Slattery has been hitting well all season. Joe Uhls has been swinging the bat well for a couple of weeks and did a good job filling for Alex Shell tonight."
Once Central had the lead, LaBruyere was sharper. He allowed just two hits over the last five innings. One was a pinch-hit homer in the seventh by Derrick Chamberlain.
LaBruyere allowed six hits in the game.
He was hit hard in the second inning when Dexter scored three runs on a walk and three hits. The inning ended on a caught stealing as Uhls gunned down David Hessling.
"Brad pitched a seven-inning gem on Friday. We knew with him pitching on two days' rest, we were going to have to play well behind him," Williams said. "He said his arm felt good, and he wanted to pitch tonight. Brad can make a coach look good."
So can the Tigers lineup, which scored 24 runs in three tournament games.
Chris Brotherton had three hits, including an RBI in the first inning. Slattery had two hits, an RBI and was hit by a pitch as he extended his hitting streak to 10 games. LaBruyere and Kitchen also had two hits. LaBruyere drove in a run in the first and one in the second.
CENTRAL 9, DEXTER 4
Dexter 030 000 1 -- 4 6 2
Central 216 000 x -- 9 13 1
WP -- Brad LaBruyere, 5-2. LP -- Josh Stevens. 2B -- Joe Uhls (Central), Logan Swindle (D); 3B -- David Hessling (D); HR -- Derrick Chamberlain (D). Multiple hits -- Central, Blake Slattery 2-3, LaBruyere 2-4, Chris Brotherton 3-4, Kory Kitchen 2-4, Joe Uhls 2-3; Dexter, Hessling 2-3. Records -- Central 12-8.
Consolation championshipKelly 11, Kennett 1
The Hawks won their third straight game in the tournament to capture the consolation bracket title.
"Anytime you come out with three wins in this tournament with the teams that are in this conference, you've got to feel pretty good about it," Kelly coach Cory Johnson said.
Pitcher Dallas Tew limited Kennett to one run on four hits to improve his record to 2-1. He struck out four.
Kelly took advantage of six Kennett errors.
Ryan Essner was 3-for-3 with three runs scored to pace the Hawks (11-7). Levi Felter, Tew and Dustin LeGrand each added two hits. Felter and Tew had two RBIs apiece, while Taylor James had two RBI and two runs scored.
"We were aggressive at the plate, maybe a little too aggressive in the early innings against their crafty left-hander," Johnson said. "But we started waiting on the ball and putting it in play, and they made some errors. We hit the ball hard, though."
Jimmy Clifton had two hits for Kennett, which had three triples in the game.
WP -- Dallas Tew, 2-1. LP -- Trey Bazzell. 3B -- Jimmy Clifton (Ken), Wesley Jackson (Ken), Jonathan Percival (Ken), Taylor James (Kelly). Multiple hits -- Kennett, Clifton 2-3; Kelly, Ryan Essner 3-3, Levi Felter 2-4, Tew 2-4, Dustin LeGrand 2-3. Records -- Kelly 11-7.