With the coronavirus shut down the high school baseball season looming, Central thought maybe its game with No. 3 Baker High of Mobile last Friday night would be the last game the Red Devils would be able to play for the next three weeks – if not for the rest of the season – as Governor Kay Ivey announced she was shutting down K-12 schools in the state on March 18 for 2.5 weeks. The Red Devils went out and played one of their best games of the season and defeated Baker 6-2.
But, the game did not end the season for Central as the Alabama High School Athletic Association announced it would comply with the governor’s decision and stop athletics play in the state for all sports on March 18. That decision allowed Central to continue to play out the games in the annual East Alabama Classic with Theodore and Saraland.
Central won its final three games of the classic while it lost its opening contest to Faith Academy of Mobile 10-0.
“If it had been our last game before the shutdown, it would have been a good one to go out on,” Central coach A.J. Kehoe said of his team’s victory over the No. 3 team in Class 7A. “I felt good about the way we played that game. We played a clean game and got some timely hits. We also got a good pitching performance by Tyler (Haines). It was also a game that gave us a chance to come back after getting beat up by a very good Faith Academy team the night before.”
Asked if he told his team to play hard because the next game – Theodore – last Friday night might be the last one before the season took a pause when the AHSAA did not immediately suspend the season, Kehoe said, “I really don’t think like that. I kind of live in the moment. I try to stay positive. I just want the kids to play a good game every time they take the field and I want them to stay focused on the current game.”
So what will Kehoe do now that the season has been suspended for the next 2.5 weeks?
“Basically, we will send out information every day to tell the kids what to do to stay safe and healthy. We want to make sure our kids do remain healthy. I think some of the kids will do some work on their own, but we will not organize anything. We can’t do that. They will have to do that on their own. We just want to stay in communication with the kids to make sure they are healthy,” Kehoe said.
Central opened the East Alabama Classic with a 10-0 loss to Faith Academy last Thursday night. Only Cole Kehoe had a hit for Central. He went –for-2. Will Cannon took the loss on the mound for Central. Cannon went four innings, allowed seven hits, eight runs, one earned run and struck out three. Central committed five errors in the game.
On Friday night, Central got its victory over Baker, 6-2. Tyler Haines went the distance on the mound, allowed two hits, one earned run, struck out 11 batters and did not walk anyone.
At the plate, Jared Jackson was 2-for-3 with a home run and two RBIs. Caleb Johnson, Drew Anthony, Zion Morris, Cannon and Haines all had a hit. Haines and Johnson both had doubles. Morris had a triple.
Central and Baker played to a scoreless tie over the first three innings. In the bottom of the fourth inning, Central scored twice. Haines had a one-out double and scored on a single by Jackson. Jackson took second on the hit when Baker threw home to get Haines. Jackson moved to third on a ground out. He scored when Cannon singled.
Central took a 5-0 lead in the fifth with three runs. Morris walked and then scored on a double by Johnson. Johnson took third base on a passed ball. He scored on a sacrifice fly by Haines. Jackson then had a solo home run.
After Baker cut the lead to 5-2 in the sixth inning, Central added an insurance run in the sixth. Anthony singled and scored when Morris tripled.
Central followed the win over Baker with a 7-6 victory over Theodore. Morris got the pitching victory in relief. He pitched one inning, did not allow a hit and struck out one. Zach Joyner, PJ Ramsey and Johnson each had two hits. Ramsey had a pair of doubles.
In the bottom of the seventh inning with the score tied at 7-7, Central scored its winning run. With one out, J.J. Graham walked. With two outs, Johnson walked. Joyner was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Graham scored on a wild pitch to give Central its 8-7 victory.
Central defeated Saraland 10-0 in the last game of the classic. Central scored runs in the second, third, fifth and sixth innings to end the game on the mercy rule. The Red Devils scored six runs in the bottom of the sixth to end the game.
Brodie Farrow was the winning pitcher for Central. Kehoe had three hits while Ramsey had two. Kehoe had a double for Central. Kehoe also had three RBIs.
Central is now off until further notice. The Red Devils are 10-6 for the season at this point.