Central manufactures win against Chaffee in opener

Thursday, March 24, 2005

While high school baseball teams across Southeast Missouri had their cleats hung up on Wednesday with cancellations dominating the area schedule for the second straight day, Central was able to get a game under its feet before hitting the road for Mississippi.

Central will play several games this weekend in the Southaven (Miss.) Tournament.

"We really wanted to play before we headed south," Central coach Steve Williams said.

With the tarp pulled over its field the past two days, the Tigers' natural turf was in solid condition for Central's season-opener against Chaffee, a game originally scheduled for Tuesday. Despite temperatures that cooled off both teams' bats, Central was able to take advantage of four Chaffee errors in a 7-0 win.

"It was a tough day to hit -- cold and windy," Williams said. "At the same time, they gave us some extra chances and we were able to cash in enough to win."

Central managed just four hits, two off bunts. After scoring an unearned run in the second, the Tigers gave themselves some breathing room in the fourth with the help of some strong fundamentals.

Brad LaBruyere reached on an error to start the inning, and Zac Hudson attempted to move courtesy runner Tyrone Reece over with a bunt. Hudson beat the throw to first on his bunt, and Reece eventually scored on a wild pitch. With one out and Hudson on third, Lance Young dropped down a squeeze bunt that scored Hudson. Young reached when no one covered first.

"I hate to give in and sacrifice when it's 0-0," Williams said. "But we have some guys that can run and bunt well."

Three runs was more than enough for sophomore starter LaBruyere. In five innings, LaBruyere allowed two hits, struck out seven and walked just one.

"For him to go five innings the first game and work like that and not give up any runs, I was very impressed," Williams said.

Tyler Bruce was impressive in his one inning of relief for the Tigers. Bruce struck out two and was around the plate on all three batters he faced. The game was called after the sixth inning due to darkness.

Central tacked on four runs in its final inning at bat, with two hits, two walks and two hit batsmen in the fifth inning. Scott Brueckner crushed a hit to the wall for a triple, and Hudson added another hit in the inning.

Reece finished the game with three runs scored while acting as the courtesy runner for LaBruyere. Leadoff man Matt Hester reached base three of his four at bats without getting a hit. LaBruyere reached base all three of his at bats without a hit.

While the Red Devils struggled defensively and gave up five walks, Central did not give Chaffee any free bases. The Tigers defense did not commit an error -- they even turned a double play -- while Central's pitchers walked just one.

"If we can eliminate free passes and free bases, we have a chance to be good," Williams said.

Alex Orr took the loss for Chaffee, although he allowed just one earned run. Through 4 1/3 innings, Orr allowed three hits, struck out two and walked four. Chaffee (0-2) had just three base runners, and had only one reach second base.

Central will get its share of tough competition this weekend as it plays in the Southhaven Tournament. The Tigers will face Mississippi teams Southhaven (9-3), Madison (14-0), and Oxford (12-3).

"This will make us better," Williams said of the Southhaven Tournament.

CENTRAL 7, CHAFFEE 0

Chaffee000000--024
Central01024X--740

WP -- Brad LaBruyere, 1-0. LP -- Alex Orr, 0-1. 3B -- Scott Brueckner (C). Multiple hits -- Central, Zac Hudson 2-3. Records -- Central 1-0, Chaffee 0-2.

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