Cape Central baseball team upsets Festus 6-4 in Class 4 sectional

Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Central pitcher Chase Hagerty, center, celebrates with teammates after the Tigers beat Festus in their Class 4 sectional game Tuesday in Festus, Mo. See more photos of the game at (Fred Lynch)

FESTUS, Mo. -- The Central baseball team couldn't hit Festus pitcher Tyler Almany for much of Tuesday's Class 4 sectional.

In fact, no Central player even reached base after the second inning.

Not that it mattered.

Central scored six times in the first two innings with the help of six hits and two costly Festus errors and advanced to the state quarterfinals for the second consecutive season with a 6-4 victory.

"You never know," Central coach Steve Williams said. "That's the thing. That's why you have to be prepared because you don't know when that opportunity's going to come.

Central first baseman Ramsey Scott tags out Festus baserunner Travis Spraul on the way to first base during the fifth inning of their Class 4 sectional Tuesday in Festus, Mo. (Fred Lynch)

"Here you look in the first inning, bases loaded and nobody out, I think. That may be the chance right there, and as it turned out, today it was because we got a couple runs. Then we cashed in again the next inning. All the sudden we're up 6-0. That's a big hole for anybody to come back from because the guy on the mound is going to be pretty good. Our guy was. Their guy was."

Freshman Chase Hagerty once again was Central's guy. He earned his third complete-game win in the Tigers' four playoff victories.

"I just have a lot of confidence in my team right now," Hagerty said. "I guarantee you we're one of the best teams right now, and the way we're playing, the way we're hitting, the way we're fielding -- just everything's been a step up from the beginning on the season. We're ready to go."

Hagerty pitched around a hit in the top of the first for Central, which was the home team on the scoreboard while playing on Festus' field.

The first four Central batters reached base in the bottom of the inning, and the Tigers eventually scored two runs, one on an RBI-walk by Ramsey Scott and the other on a double play ground ball.

"That was an important thing today, the fact that we were able to hold them in the top of the first and then score in the bottom half," Williams said. "I think that relaxed our kids, relaxed our pitcher and gave us a chance to move on from there."

Central loaded the bases again in the second inning but did not score until a two-out error was made by the Festus shortstop. Scott and third baseman Thomas Crocetti followed with RBI singles.

"I got up 2-0 on the count, and I was just looking for a ball to hit hard and I fouled it off," Crocetti said." After that, I was just looking for another ball, preferably to hit up the middle like I did. He threw it out over the plate, perfect one to just line up the middle."

Crocetti's hit was the last one Central got off Almany.

"I think he just settled down," Scott said about Almany. "He started hitting his spots a little more, got some calls that could go either way."

Festus (21-6) put at least one runner on base in every inning except the fourth and the fifth, but Hagerty said pitching with the lead helped him.

"I'm not worried about those baserunners, especially with a six-run lead," Hagerty said. "I got some room to work with. I don't like giving up runs, but just with that cushion it boosted my confidence."

Festus trailed 6-2 when it loaded the bases with one out in the sixth inning. A sacrifice fly on a liner to center gave Festus its third run, but Hagerty induced a grounder back to him for the third out of the inning.

As the rest of the team started to trot off the field, Hagerty waved them back on thinking he had just recorded the second out.

"It kind of relieved me," Hagerty said about realizing he had retired the side. "I was like, ‘Oh. All right. Nobody saw that, right?'"

Hagerty recorded 12 of his 21 outs on fly balls, 10 of which were tracked down by Central's outfielders.

"Our outfield played really good today," Williams said. "We had a lot of fly ball outs today. Christian [Cavaness] was running from left-center to right-center to flag balls down, and Matt Chism's making plays down the line."

Hagerty struck out two batters and walked one.

"The one thing you can count on with Chase, he's going to compete," Williams said. "He's not going to give you anything less than his best. When you put him out there, you know you're going to get his effort, so you don't have to worry about that.

"He had good velocity today. He got ahead most of the time. He had a decent breaking ball when he needed it. His changeup wasn't quite as good as it was last week, but his curveball was better. He had enough stuff to be effective, and he threw enough strikes and got ahead of people enough to where our defense was in the right place."

The victory was the eighth consecutive for a streaking Central team, which improved to 12-14 on the season. It will face Rockwood Summit (16-9) on Thursday.

"It's unbelievable, really," Crocetti said. "Hopefully we can just take another step and go to the final four this year."

Central reached the quarterfinal round in back-to-back seasons for the first time in Williams' tenure as coach, which started in 1992. While last season's playoff run was a bit of a surprise for a team that finished 17-10, this year's run probably should be listed as shocking after the Tigers were seeded sixth in their own district.

"It's huge," Williams said about a return to the quarterfinals. "Any time you reach this point in the season and there's only eight teams left in the state of Missouri in your class, it's huge for our kids, huge for our program. And it's exciting.

"The most fun for me is to see the excitement in the kids' faces. That and the fact that they want to continue to practice, because that determines everything. The team that wants to keep playing now that school's out and summer's here. The team that wants to keep playing will keep playing, and we've talked to our kids about that, and right now they want to keep playing."


WP -- Chase Hagerty. LP -- Tyler Almany. 3B -- Travis Spraul (F). 2B -- Spraule (F), Caleb Wilkerson (F). Multiple hits -- Festus: Spraul 2-4, Wilkerson 4-4, Mitchell Lovelace 2-4.

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