Madison Central shuts out Vikings in Game 1
Published 10:34 pm Friday, April 27, 2018
MADISON — Twice Friday night, Warren Central left fielder Hank Holdiness crashed into the wall at Madison Central’s Jaguar Field while chasing fly balls. The collisions left two huge dents in the metal wall, as well as one hole big enough for daylight to shine through.
It was the most damage the Vikings inflicted on Madison Central all night.
The Vikings mustered four hits and only hit four balls out of the infield against Madison right-hander Regi Grace. Their own pitchers had an uncharacteristic off night as well, and the end result was a 7-0 loss in Game 1 of a second-round Class 6A baseball playoff series.
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Warren Central was shut out for the first time this season.
“We had two plays get away from us that kind of spiraled into their runs, but you just have to tip your hat to Regi. He’s a heck of a pitcher, and there’s a reason why they’re projecting him to possibly be drafted and go pro,” Warren Central coach Conner Douglas said.
Game 2 of the best-of-three series is Saturday at 7 p.m. at Warren Central’s Viking Field. WC needs to win to keep its season alive and force a deciding Game 3 back at Madison Central on Monday night.
Madison Central (23-5) has now won 23 of its last 25 meetings with Warren Central (21-9) dating back to 2008.
“You just tip your hat to the good pitcher and you lace them up tomorrow,” Douglas said. “We’re not sulking on it, because we know we’re still a good team. We’ve just got to win one at a time now. That’s how we’ve been approaching it all season, and that’s how we’ll continue to approach it — one game at a time, and we’ll try to force a Game 3.”
Madison Central got a leg up in the series thanks to a dominating pitching performance by Grace and a couple of big innings.
Grace retired 15 of the first 18 batters he faced, did not walk anyone, and finished with eight strikeouts. The closest Warren Central came to scoring was in the sixth inning, when Vantrel Reed hit a two-out double and D.J. Lewis followed with a bunt single. Both runners were stranded as Grace got out of the jam with a strikeout.
Shane Lewis and Landan Stewart had singles earlier in the game. The only other ball the Vikings hit out of the infield was an easy fly out to right field by Alan Kivett leading off the fifth inning.
“He worked both sides of the plate and stayed around 90 (mph) all night. It’s not something you see everyday,” Douglas said of Grace. “And he had a really good out pitch. His slider was really good tonight. He stayed in the zone. He doesn’t walk people. That’s why he’s so good. He doesn’t give you baserunners. You’ve got to earn them. They played good defense behind him when we did hit it, and it just didn’t work out.”
The Jaguars, meanwhile, took care of their offensive needs by scoring four runs in the third inning and three more in the fifth.
WC starter Christian Oakes danced around some early trouble with the help of two double plays — one of them on a fly ball to deep left field that Holdiness held on to while leaving the hole in the fence — but couldn’t stay unscathed for long.
A pair of two-out walks set up an RBI single by Kirkland Trahan in the bottom of the third, which snapped a 26-inning scoreless streak by Warren Central’s pitchers. Lawson Stockett then belted a 3-2 breaking ball way over the center field wall for a three-run home run and a 4-0 lead.
“Christian made the pitch we called. He just left it a little bit up and the kid was sitting on it,” Douglas said.
In the fifth inning, Kade Dees drove in a run with a base hit and Tucker Richmond blooped a two-run single to left field to provide some insurance that the Jaguars really didn’t need.
Stockett, Dees and Trahan all had two hits apiece. Trahan had a triple, one RBI and scored two runs.
“We like our chances tomorrow. We’ve still got our pitching. We’ve just got to play defense,” Douglas said.
MHSAA BASEBALL PLAYOFFS
Warren Central vs. Madison Central
Game 1: Madison Central 7, Warren Central 0
Game 2: Saturday, 7 p.m., at Warren Central
Game 3: Monday, 6 p.m., at Madison Central
Series is best-of-three; Game 3 if necessary