Centennial outlasts McNary in error-filled slugfest
KEIZER — Saying that the qualifier game between Centennial and McNary on Tuesday was ugly is probably a bit of an understatement. The two teams combined for a whopping 18 errors in the contest — Centennial had eight errors while McNary had 10.
But when it was all said and done, the team that had less mistakes ended up coming out on top.
Centennial tied a season-high with 15 runs in the contest as the Eagles clinched their second straight state-playoff berth with a 15-11 victory over McNary.
"Every single kid came out here and contributed with their bat," Centennial head coach Eric Fogle said. "We hit the ball the hard and were able to square things up. When you score 15 runs, you can have a lot of errors and not have it effect you…We survived in this game."
The Eagles offensive explosion came to fruition in the top of the second. With the bases loaded and nobody out, Cameron Nolander drew a five-pitch walk to bring in Gavin Hemmer from third and give Centennial the 1-0 lead.
Nine-batter Kyle Fitzgerald followed with a nifty bunt down the third base line. McNary pitcher Carl Rumbaugh tried to scoop the ball up and throw home for the force-out but he was unable to make the play as the Eagles brought another run across.
"It was important to set the tone early," Fogle said. "There were plenty of times tonight where we put the ball on the ground in a small-ball situation and (McNary) threw the ball around a little bit. When you do the little things like that it puts a lot of pressure on them."
From the nine-spot, Fitzgerald reached base in all four of his plate appearances and scored three runs.
"I just have the approach of being a second leadoff hitter," Fitzgerald said. "My team trusts me to get on base and have our top guys knock me in."
Gehrig Bricker kept things going with with a RBI-single to left field. Even though Nolander got back-picked at third base on the play, that didn't stop the Centennial rally. After an infield-single from Landan Fery, Justin Funkhouser roped a two-run double down the right field line to extend Centennial's advantage to 5-0.
A sacrifice fly from Yoon Saechao and a RBI-hit by Gavin Hemmer completed a seven-run inning for the Eagles, giving them a commanding lead.
"As a team, we just want to hit the ball hard and try and make things happen," Funkhouser said. "When you start off doing well at the plate, it just keeps rolling."
Funkhouser, who got the start on the mound for Centennial, clearly didn't have his best stuff today, but he also didn't get a lot of help from his defense. The Celtics got three runs in the bottom of the second on a pair of hits and a costly error that reduced the lead to 7-3.
View photos at davidball.smugmug.com.
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