Central baseball team wiggles out of jam, defeats Poplar Bluff 8-3

Friday, April 1, 2011
Central left fielder Austin Davis makes a diving attempt at a fly ball as teammate Christian Cavaness backs him up during the fourth inning of Thursday's game against Poplar Bluff at Central High School. The umpires ruled Davis made the catch. (Kristin Eberts)

Central starter Ronnie Scott created a massive jam to start the sixth inning Thursday.

Back-to-back singles then a hit batter loaded the bases with no outs for Poplar Bluff.

The Tigers, who won 8-3, clung to a three-run lead at the time, and Scott looked rattled.

Central coach Steve Williams went to the mound to discuss the situation with his senior left-hander.

"I told him he wasn't coming out, first of all," Williams said. "I told him the key was to get ahead. He had a little cushion and to not hurt yourself. We've talked all year long about freebies. It's a stat we keep now. I just told Ronnie, 'Let's make sure they earn everything they get,' and he threw strikes."

Central's Christian Cavaness doubles against Poplar Bluff during the fourth inning Thursday at Central High School. Central won 8-3. (Kristin Eberts)

While Williams was chatting with his pitcher, Poplar Bluff coach Stan Bullington offered some advice to his freshman batter Wesley Pyles.

"He's starting varsity as a freshman, so he's got some things to learn," Bullington said. "But during the time when Steve went out to the pitcher, I said, 'Hey, let's just relax. Let him come to you. There's no hurry here. There's no rush. We just need a ball to the outfield somewhere. We'll just get one. If you get one to the gap, that's great. But the main thing is we want to get the ball to the outfield somewhere and get one.'"

Scott hurled a sweeping curve into the zone for a called third strike to retire Pyles.

"He got anxious and chased one up above and watched the next two," Bullington said. "That's a freshman mistake, and he's going to get better."

Scott said he went away from his usual out pitch later in Thursday's game.

"I like to throw a fastball low and outside, but later on in the game, I like to mix it up with the curveball," he said.

Pinch-hitter Jeffrey Rowland stepped in with a golden chance to slash the Mules' deficit.

But Scott coaxed a ground ball to second baseman J.T. Kratochvil, who didn't hesitate.

"I was going to second the whole time," Kratochvil said.

Kratochvil rocketed a low strike to shortstop Thomas Crocetti, who gloved the throw and fired to first baseman Andrew Williams, who retired Rowland by more than a step to extinguish the threat. Central added two runs in the sixth to pull out the 8-3 victory.

"He had a pretty good ball to hit," Bullington said about Rowland. "He just hit a ground ball to second base and they turned two."

Coach Williams appreciated Kratochvil's confidence on the double play, but his first instinct when he saw Rowland's grounder was to get the sure out at first.

"I started to say let's get an out," Williams said. "But once again, we had a little bit of a cushion."

Scott didn't admit to questioning Kratochvil's and Crocetti's ability to turn the double play, but he did hesitate before answering if he thought they could do it.

"I knew J.T. and Thomas would make the play," Scott said. "I was just hoping they'd do it and they did. It was big. We needed that."

Poplar Bluff (0-3) struck first in the game when Chance Berry delivered a run-scoring double, then Pyles plated Berry with a single to grab a 2-0 lead in the second inning.

But Central answered with three runs in its half of the inning. Scott and J.P. Huston walked to lead off the frame, then Ryan Siebert and Kratochvil delivered run-scoring singles to even the score. Mules starter Quinton West struck out the next two Tigers before Christian Cavaness rolled a single up the middle to score Siebert.

Kratochvil tacked on two more runs in the third with a two-out double to center field.

"I was just trying to get ahead in the count because I've been getting behind lately," he said. "Just trying to get productive outs."

Josh King singled home a run in the fifth to cut Central's lead to 6-3, but the Mules couldn't strike again.

"We had a good opportunity there with the bases loaded and nobody out and didn't come through there," Bullington said. "A couple other times we had runners in scoring position, we just didn't get the hit that we needed to put it out."

Cavaness added an insurance run in the sixth with a triple to center field that one-hopped the wall. He scored on a groundout by Trey Gardner. Cavaness said he knew what pitch was coming when he tripled.

"We kind of picked up in the dugout that if they threw first-pitch curveball, you knew fastball was coming back," he said. "Then if they threw first-pitch fastball and it was a strike, they were coming back with curveball. It was pretty easy to pick up today. I know not every team is going to be like that, but it was nice to know all that.

"I was sitting, ready for fastball. I was just looking for something I could drive into the outfield and score Austin [Davis]."

Scott recorded two more strikeouts in the seventh to finish with six. He threw 79 pitches in the game.

"It feels pretty good now," Scott said about his arm. "It's a little sore, but it will be good."

Poplar Bluff0200100--391

WP -- Ronnie Scott. LP -- Quinton West. 3B -- Christian Cavaness (C), West (PB). 2B -- Chance Berry (PB), J.T. Kratochvil (C), Cavaness (C). Multiple hits -- Poplar Bluff: West 2-3, Charlie Kayser 2-4; Central: Cavaness 3-4, Kratochvil 2-3. Records -- Poplar Bluff 0-3, Central 3-2.

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