Cape Central baseball team completes upset run, wins district title

Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Central pitcher Chase Hagerty jumps into the arms of catcher Ryan Siebert after his final pitch to beat Farmington 10-3 in the Class 4 District 1 title game Tuesday in Sikeston, Mo. (Fred Lynch)

SIKESTON, Mo. -- Central pitcher Chase Hagerty saved his best inning for his last inning in Tuesday's Class 4 District 1 championship.

The freshman retired in order the Nos. 2, 3 and 4 hitters in top-seeded Farmington's lineup in the bottom of the seventh inning to finish the Tigers' 10-3 win and secure their second consecutive district crown.

It was the first time Hagerty retired the Knights in order all day, and it was capped by his only strikeout of the game when he threw a 2-2 changeup to Farmington cleanup hitter Logan Bradley.

"He wanted to rip the ball, and you could tell," Hagerty said. "He was pulling his head a little bit. I wasn't going to give him a meat fastball because if he even hits it, I knew it was going to be hit hard. So I tried to mix it, throw an offspeed pitch and make it look like I threw a fastball. And it worked out."

It was the second complete-game win in a four-day span in district play for Hagerty. He four-hit Jackson in a 6-1 win Saturday.

"That's ridiculous, especially as a freshman," Central second baseman Luke Hinkebein said. "It's something else."

Hinkebein and the rest of the Central infield joined Hagerty on the mound in the fifth inning. While it was far from a crisis, Hagerty was in the middle of his biggest challenge of the day after giving up a two-out, two-RBI double to Bradley to trim Central's lead to 9-3.

"We were just telling him we had a pretty big lead and all he had to do was throw strikes," Hinkebein said about the team meeting on the mound. "We'd work behind him."

Hagerty retired the next batter and did not surrender another run.

"That's my team right there for you," he said. "They backed me up great. That really calmed me down, and we got right out of it."

Central pitcher Chase Hagerty throws to a Farmington batter during the first inning.

A night after making five errors in its semifinal win, the Central defense played flawlessly, and occasionally spectacularly, in the championship. It helped Hagerty retire 14 batters on fly balls and six on ground outs.

"It could have been real easy after a late night last night and a hot day today, it would have been real easy, ‘Well, we've had a great year,'" Central coach Steve Williams said. "But they didn't do that, and that's what I'm talking about. That's the difference between being a good team and achieving success, and we did that today."

Hagerty mostly used just two pitches after struggling to throw his slider.

"I can't say enough about Chase, too," Williams said. "He didn't have his best stuff today. He didn't have a breaking ball at all. He was a fastball-changeup guy all day, and for him to just go out there and compete and just kind of will us into the lead once our hitters got it going, it made a difference. I'm really proud of him. I really am."

Right fielder Matt Chism, who provided the game's defensive highlight with a diving catching to end the fourth inning, put Central ahead with an RBI triple in the second inning.

"Oh my God," said Chism when asked about the hit. "I swear I just wanted to jump up and down. I didn't know what to do."

Chism added a two-RBI single an inning later and was giddy with excitement after being a part of his first district title.

Central players celebrate after beating Farmington 10-3 in the Class 4 District 1 title game Tuesday in Sikeston, Mo. (Fred Lynch)

"Amazing," he said. "I'm just a sophomore, so this is the first time I've ever experienced it. I honestly don't know what to say. It's just amazing. I had my best game all season today on the district championship. It feels amazing."

Hinkebein, who preserved Central's season with a sacrifice fly to tie Monday night's semifinal in the bottom of the seventh inning, was 3 for 4 with five RBIs Tuesday. He singled, doubled and tripled.

"It's pretty surreal right now," Hinkebein said about the championship. "It's a great feeling for sure. I'm kind of speechless."

Another title seemed unlikely for Central this season. The Tigers were 4-14 at one point and were seeded sixth out of seven teams in the district. But they haven't lost a game since April 28 and will take a seven-game winning streak into their sectional next Wednesday against the winner of Class 4 District 2, which will be decided today.

"It's amazing how many times things that you try to get kids to understand finally click," Williams said. "And when they do click, it's amazing what you can accomplish. Today's amazing. No one gave us a chance outside of the kids in our dugout and our coaches. "For our kids to continue to believe when they were 4-14, when they were getting 10-runned, when they're getting beat by a lot of good teams -- for them to continue to believe, to continue to play, to continue to work to get better -- this is the pay off. I'm so happy for them, and I'm so proud of them."

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WP -- Chase Hagerty (5-3). LP -- Doug Warren. 3B -- Matt Chism (C), Luke Hinkebein (C). 2B -- Thomas Crocetti (C), Hinkebein (C), Logan Bradley (F). Multiple hits -- Central: Christian Cavaness 2-4, Vance Toole 3-4, Hinkebein 3-4, Chism 2-4. Records -- Central 11-14.

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