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Schneider delivers for Tigers on Senior Day
Central High School's baseball Senior Day was especially sweet for Sam Schneider.
Schneider is the only member of Central's seven-man senior class who did not play for the Tigers' varsity last season.
But the first-year varsity member delivered the biggest hit of his final home game.
Schneider's two-run triple with two outs in the bottom of the fifth inning Wednesday was the difference as the Tigers edged Hillsboro 6-4.
"It felt good," Schneider said of the Senior Day victory. "We were all pretty excited to play."
Schneider was prohibited under Missouri State High School Activities Association regulations from playing varsity sports last year after he transferred from Notre Dame Regional High School.
That forced Schneider to spend his junior season on Central's junior varsity squad.
"Three years of JV for me," noted a smiling Schneider, who also spent his freshman and sophomore campaigns on Notre Dame's JV. "It's nice to be playing varsity and it's nice to contribute."
Schneider was a major contributor Wednesday. In addition to his game-winning triple, his second-inning RBI single gave the Tigers an early 1-0 lead. He walked and scored a run in his other plate appearance.
"I was really happy for Sam," Central coach Steve Williams said. "He has really worked hard. He had to play JV last year but he never complained. I'm proud of him."
Central (15-8) and Hillsboro (13-13) were tied 4-4 when the Hawks opened the door for Schneider's fifth-inning heroics.
Senior Josh Meyer and junior Andrew Williams reached on consecutive errors but still were on first and second with two outs when Schneider came to the plate.
Schneider, Central's right fielder and No. 9 hitter, acknowledged that he's not among the Tigers' biggest sticks.
But Schneider drilled a fastball from Ryan Deckard into the right-center field gap.
"I'm not a big hitter. I just try to get on base," Schneider said.
Schneider said he had not been aggressive enough in recent outings and was intent on changing that approach.
"The last couple of games I've been letting first-pitch fastballs go by," he said. "I told myself I was going to swing at the first pitch if it was good. I got a good pitch to hit and I knew it was in the gap."
Schneider's hit made a winner of junior Andrew Hileman, who pitched five strong innings.
Hileman allowed seven hits and four runs while striking out six. He did not issue a walk, although he hit two batters.
Three of Hillsboro's runs officially were earned, but Hileman very easily could not have given up any runs as Central failed to make plays twice that were not ruled errors.
"I felt pretty good. It was definitely my best game of the season," Hileman said. "I just tried to throw strikes and keep the ball down."
Hileman also had two hits, including a double.
"He did a great job," Williams said. "That's as good as he's pitched, and he swung the bat well.
"I hated to take him out, but I wanted to give Josh [Compas] some work."
Compas, Central's senior catcher and closer, nailed down the victory although not without some anxious moments.
After retiring the side in order in the sixth inning, Compas set down the first two batters in the seventh before getting into trouble.
A single and double put runners on second and third, but Compas got his second strikeout of the inning to earn his fourth save of the season.
"It did get a little nervous," Compas said. "I just focused on throwing strikes."
Williams said he feels good with a late lead and Compas on the mound.
"He's done well in that [closer] role," Williams said. "He's got a good arm."
Deckard also displayed a nice arm for the Hawks as the sophomore allowed just five hits in six innings. He struck out five and walked four. Only one of Central's six runs was earned.
The Tigers got a huge break in the fourth inning. Trailing 2-1, they scored three unearned runs on one play as senior Jamie Pickel's routine ground ball to second base with the bases loaded and two outs first was booted and then thrown away.
Festus tied it in the top of the fifth before Central answered back in the bottom of the frame.
Hillsboro outhit Central nine to seven. The Hawks were led by Andy McKeever with three hits. Jake Reiter doubled twice.
"It was a good game," said Williams, whose squad ends the regular season today at Malden before beginning district play Saturday. "I'm proud of the seniors. I'm proud of the whole team. It's a really good group."
WP -- Andrew Hileman. LP -- Ryan Deckard. 3B -- Sam Schneider (C). 2B -- Jake Reiter (H) 2, Andy McKeever (H), Hileman (C), Jamie Pickel (C). Multiple hits -- Hillsboro: McKeever 3-4, Reiter 2-4, Alex Jacobs 2-4. Central: Schneider 2-2, Hileman 2-3. Records -- Hillsboro 13-13, Central 15-8.