Warren Central clinches division title

Published 10:13 am Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Coming into Tuesday, Warren Central’s magic number to clinch the Division 4-6A championship was two.

It didn’t waste any time getting there.

The Vikings scored in every inning en route to a 9-5 win over Murrah in game one of a doubleheader Tuesday, then finished the sweep and clinched the division title with an 11-1 win in game two.

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It’s the first time since the 2001-02 seasons that Warren Central (14-5, 7-0 Division 4-6A) has won back-to-back titles. It also earned a first-round bye in the MHSAA Class 6A playoffs that begin April 22.

“It feels good any time you win the division. Feels great to know we can start preparing for the playoffs now and give the guys some well-needed rest,” Warren Central coach Conner Douglas said.

In the first game Tuesday, the Vikings jumped on top in the first inning on Tyler Vroman’s RBI single and added to it every inning. A two-run single by Logan Stewart in the fourth made it 4-2, but Murrah (1-13, 0-6) hung around until the end. An unearned run and an RBI single by D.J. Lewis in the fifth made it 8-3 and finally gave them some breathing room.

Game two was never that close.

Stewart’s two-run single, as well as RBI singles by Brooks Boolos and Conner Wilkinson, keyed a seven-run second inning that sent the Vikings on their way to a five-inning run rule victory.

Wilkinson finished game two 3-for-3 with a triple, RBI and a run scored. Boolos had two hits in game two, and was 4-for-7 with two RBIs and two runs scored in the doubleheader.

Lewis was 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored in game one, and also scored one run and drove in another in the nightcap.

More impressive than the hitting was the Vikings’ pitching. Josh Lieberman, normally used as a reliever, started game one and allowed three runs in five innings of work. He struck out two and walked three.

In game two, junior Matthew Newcomb pitched for the first time this season and allowed one unearned run in five innings. He struck out five, didn’t walk a batter, and only allowed three hits.

Their efforts gave WC’s pitching staff a lift. The team plays five games this week — it beat Clinton on Monday night, and will play at Greenville Friday night and at home against Madison Central on Saturday afternoon — so being able to dig deep into the rotation saved some wear and tear on the front line starters.

It also showed an asset Douglas said will be needed down the road.

“Depth is always nice, especially with the amount of make up games we have piled on top of regular scheduled games,” Douglas said. “It’s good to get other guys a look going into the playoffs to see who can handle it. We have to have someone step up and fill the void losing one of our best arms, so we hope someone does that by playoff time.”

St. Al 10, Hartfield 0

Garrett Breithaupt threw 5 1/3 innings of shutout ball, Jake Pierce drove in two runs, and St. Aloysius (10-4, 6-1 District 3-AAA) beat Hartfield Academy in the opener of a three-game district series at Bazinsky Field.

Lane Hynum, Lee Simpson, Rett Verhine and Justin Ehrgott all had two hits for the Flashes, who won for the sixth time in seven games.

St. Al and Hartfield will play a doubleheader Thursday beginning at 4:30 p.m. in Flowood.

“This team is getting more and more confidence,” St. Al coach Sid Naron said. “We as a unit have to continue to focus on a game by game approach. The guys have done that, and if they continue this team can go on a roll.”

Porters Chapel 11, WCCA 4

Robi Riggin went 3-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs scored, Brayden Ray doubled and scored two runs, and Porters Chapel Academy (8-6-1, 4-1 District 5-AA) picked up a key district win over Wilkinson County Christian.

Eight of PCA’s nine starters had at least one hit, and seven of them scored a run. The Eagles scored three unearned runs in the first inning, and added five more in the fourth to take an 8-0 lead. RBI doubles by Ray and Garrett Hutchins highlighted the big fourth inning.