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By Mark Clark
The Central High Red Devils broke a three-game losing streak this past weekend with a double header sweep of Brookwood Academy. The two victories also put Central at 5-2 as they began this week’s games.
The sweep of Brookwood also brought Central’s bats back to life – something Red Devils’ coach A.J. Kehoe was happy to see.
“I think what happens with young hitters – we started out 3-0 against some good teams – they were doing well and got away from what we wanted our approaches to be at the plate. Keeping young hitters focused is a constant battle, especially when things seem to go well early. They start making adjustments that we were not telling them to do. It usually it takes eight to ten games to get our concept across to them. I think Saturday was a good day for us and for what we wanted them to do, but the opposing pitching was not what we have seen from other teams. It was a good day for us to get some other kids into the game to keep them from getting rusty. We were able to use some kids that are role players who can help us later in the season,” Kehoe said.
While the team’s hitting had been a problem over that string of three losses, the team’s pitching and fielding was not.
“Our pitching and defense have been fantastic so far. Our overall team ERA is 2.03 and our fielding percentage is .980. That’s very good. We don’t have overpowering pitchers. We have guys that go out and do what they have to do to get the job done. We have 52 strikeouts and 15 walks from our staff so far over 55 innings. We’ve given up 45 hits. So, that is not numbers that look overpowering, but they are winning numbers. Our starters on Saturday against Brookwood were very good. They gave us the chance to get some guys in to pitch that we haven’t been able to use so far. I think we got good performances from all of them,” Kehoe said.
The Red Devils started the week with its third loss in a row, a 2-0 loss in a low-scoring affair with the Columbus High Blue Devils. Central once again failed to hit the baseball as its coach wanted in the loss.
The Red Devils had four hits in the game – a double and three singles. Jeremy Thorn had the double as he went 2-for-3 at the plate to lead the Red Devils. Brayden Pelkey and P.J. Ramsey were both 1-for-3 with singles for the remainder of the Red Devils’ hits.
Columbus pounded out nine hits, but could only score twice. Tyler Haines took the loss as he gave up a single earned run in the fourth inning. Columbus added another run in the top of the seventh to round out its scoring.
A game with Northview was cancelled due to the weather last Friday which might have been good for the Red Devils. It gave them more time to correct their hitting problems. And they did just that.
On Saturday, the Red Devils swept a double header from Brookwood Academy, 6-1 and 9-3. In the twin bill, Central’s batters had 23 hits.
In the opener, The Red Devils won 6-1 and had 12 hits. Their pitching remained steady as Kehoe used three pitchers to hold Brookwood to a single run. Tommy Vickers was the winner, allowing five hits, one run and striking out six over three innings. Peyton Fowler came in to relieve for three innings and held Brookwood to two hits. Peyton Burton closed out the contest and allowed two hits as well.
At the plate, Ramsey was 3-for-3 with a double and scored twice. Zion Morris was 2-for-3 with a triple and two RBIs. Jay Kehoe was 2-for-3. Mason Davis was 2-for-4. Noah Butler, Gage Tillery and Pelkey each had a hit.
Central scored first with a run in its first at-bat. Davis singled and then stole second base. He scored as he advanced a base on back-to-back ground outs.
Ramsey started the second inning with a single, stole second, took third on a single by Tillery and scored on a Morris ground out to make the score 2-0.
After a scoreless third inning, Central added its third run in the fourth inning after Brookwood had cut the score to 2-1. Ramsey started the inning with a double. He took third on a sacrifice bunt by Tillery. Ramsey scored when Morris singled.
In the fifth inning, Central added two more runs. With one out, Kehoe singled. Pelkey followed with another single. A passed ball advanced the runners before Butler singled to drive both home to make the score 5-1.
Central’s final run came in the sixth inning. Morris led off the inning with a triple and then scored when Davis singled.
In the second game, Central had 11 hits in claiming a 9-3 victory over Brookwood. Davis was 3-for-4. Jared Jackson and Morris were each 1-for-1. Tillery was 2-for-3 with double and two RBIs. Kehoe, Pelkey and Vickers were each 1-for-2. Bryce Davis and Vickers both had doubles in the game.
Zach Johnson was the winning pitcher for the Red Devils. Johnson went three innings, allowed four hits, one run and struck out two. Davis went the next three innings, allowed one hit and struck out three. Thorn went an inning and gave up one hit. Kehoe finished the game on the mound and gave up a hit, two runs and struck out two.
Central scored a pair of runs to take the early lead in the first inning. Davis and Tillery had back-to-back singles to start the inning. Kehoe walked to load the bases. Davis scored when Pelkey hit into a double-play. Tillery scored on a passed ball.
In the second inning, Central scored two more runs. Morris had a lead off single and scored when Bryce Davis doubled. Davis scored on a fly out to right after Mason Davis moved him to third on a single.
Central scored five runs in the fifth inning to make the score 9-1 which was more than enough runs to secure the victory. Tillery and Vickers both had RBI doubles in the inning. Mason Davis, Tillery, Kehoe, Pelkey and Ramsey scored in the inning for the Red Devils.
Central was scheduled to play Northview this past Tuesday on the road in Dothan. Today the team is at home to face Hardaway at 7 p.m. ET. On Saturday, Central will play host to Enterprise in a JV game at 1 p.m. ET and a varsity contest at 3:30 p.m. ET. Next Tuesday, Central is at home to face Troup County at 6:30 p.m. ET.