Central baseball team falls 2-1 to Kennett on seventh-inning hit in SEMO Conference tourney semifinal

Sunday, May 1, 2011
Kennett's Cameron Wallace dives back to second base before Central's J.T. Kratochvil can tag him during the third inning Saturday at Notre Dame Regional High School. (Kristin Eberts)

Central starter Andrew Williams gave up a hit to the second Kennett batter he faced Saturday in the SEMO Conference tournament semifinals at Notre Dame.

The senior gave up an RBI double that sailed by left fielder Austin Davis two batters later.

"I threw a curveball," Williams said. "I left it up a little bit, and he's a good hitter. He just pulled it. I thought Austin was going to get it, but it got over his head a little bit."

That would be the only blemish on Williams' brilliant performance against the top-seeded Indians and their high-powered offense, but Kennett starter Andy Lack matched him and eventually prevailed with a 2-1 victory to help his team advance to the championship game.

"He pitched his rear end off," Central coach Steve Williams said. "He pitched well. He battled. He competed. I was real proud of Andrew and our team. Everybody. The main word we used after the game was they competed. There's nothing I can tell them after the game that's going to make them feel any better, but the fact that they battled and battled against a very good team."

Central's J.P. Huston makes a diving catch in right field during the third inning Saturday at Notre Dame Regional High School. Kennett defeated Central 2-1. (Kristin Eberts)

After falling behind 1-0 in the bottom of the first, Central put a runner on base in the second inning and two on in the third. A Central runner was doubled off second base after a line drive to end the second inning, and another Central player failed to get a bunt down in the third.

"We need to execute better," coach Williams said. "We talked about that, especially with wood bats, but all the time. When you're going to sacrifice, you have to execute that situation, and we had a couple chances where we didn't. We had a couple times on the bases where we didn't execute. We got doubled off once, so those things when you look at the end 2-1 you think that may have been a problem. But we had some opportunities as well where if we just get a base hit or knock a guy in, all the sudden we've got the lead in the bottom of the seventh and now the pressure is going the other way.

"We had some chances, but they had chances too, so it was just a good high school game and very exciting."

Central successfully manufactured a run in the sixth after being retired in order in the fourth and fifth innings.

Davis reached on an error to start the inning and was sacrificed to second by center fielder Christian Cavaness. After Williams lined out, No. 3 hitter Trey Gardner fell behind 0-2 in the count before taking two balls and fouling off one of Lack's impressive sliders.

Central's Austin Davis throws to the infield after fielding a hit during the fourth inning Saturday.

"First, when I was down 0-2, I was just trying to think about making contact and putting the ball in play to hopefully get the runner home," Gardner said. "Then when it was 2-2, I was like it's going to be a fastball most likely, so I could swing a little bit harder. I was thinking fastball and luckily it was, and I got a good hit off it."

Gardner ended up with an RBI double that tied the game 1-1, but he was stranded on second base after Lack struck out Andrew Hileman to end the inning.

Williams finished his day with a scoreless bottom of the inning. He gave up one run and five hits in his six innings of work before being replaced by Luke Hinkebein.

"He was running on fumes," coach Williams said. "The No. 9 hitter was leading off the seventh, and the top of their lineup would have seen him four times had he gone back out there. He was out of gas pretty much and we just made the decision we're going to make a change and get somebody fresh a chance to get outs."

Kennett's Alex Bohnert reached base on an infield hit that sent Gardner diving into the hole at his shortstop position.

"It was a hard hit, but I thought it was going to be a lot harder," Gardner said. "I could have gotten in front of it to slow it down, but I tried to dive for it and when I tried to get back up, my foot was caught up, so I had to throw it from my knees."

Bohnert scored the winning run on Logan Dollins' single after a sacrifice bunt and intentional walk.

"They've got good hitters," coach Williams said. "They got a couple hits, and that's the way baseball is."

Central will play Jackson in the third-place game, which is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Monday at Capaha Field.


WP -- Andy Lack. LP -- Luke Hinkebein. 2B -- Adam Grantham (K), Ryan Siebert (C), Trey Gardner (C). Records -- Central 10-6, Kennett 14-2.

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