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It took the number one team in the state to do it, but the momentum of the Central High baseball team was finally stopped at the regional tournament Friday.
The Bronchos reached the tournament final with an 11-5 victory against Oklahoma Christian Academy, but did not have enough left in the championship game, falling 9-4 against Sterling to end its season.
“I’m just proud of the kids and the way they battled,” Bronchos head coach David Bussey said. “We had to come from behind again to beat OCA andwe jumped on Sterling early and put some pressure on them. I can’t say enough about this team.”
Sterling 9, Central High 4
With a trip to state on the line, Central hung tough with Oklahoma’s top ranked Class A team, but the Tigers’ offensive bursts in the first and sixth innings proved to be too much.
In the game’s first half inning, Central made it clear they had come to play.
After Ashton Wright and Jarrett Sparks were hit by pitches, Austen Dewitt made the most of the opportunity, bringing two runs home on a two-out fly ball triple to deep left center field. Kade Taylor brought home Dewitt in the next at bat, with a line drive to right field, but the rally ended when Taylor was thrown out at second base.
Sterling wasted no time to respond, reclaiming the lead in the inning’s bottom half.
Dillon White blasted a two-run home run and Sterling took a 4-3 lead after Central pitcher Roger Robertson hit Ty Wolbright with a pitch with the bases loaded.
Robertson was replaced by freshman Joseph Flood, who allowed two more runs on a sacrifice fly and RBI single, but got out of the jam by forcing a groundout to first base.
Flood got into a groove and kept Sterling scoreless for the next four innings, which included nine Tigers fly outs.
Central made things interesting in the fourth, cutting the deficit to two when Robertson plated Dewitt with an RBI single.
Each team remained scoreless until the top of the sixth, when Central appeared ready to make its move. The Bronchos loaded the bases with three singles, but Sterling escaped unharmed, forcing two strikeouts and a infield pop out to keep its lead.
Sterling woke up in the sixth with three more runs on Flood, and Central couldn’t mount a comeback, striking out three times during its final chance in the seventh inning to end its season.
Central High 11, Oklahoma Christian Academy 5
Earlier in the day, Central demonstrated why it had made it as far as the regional tournament in its win against OCA.
“This team had confidence today,” Bussey said. “They believed in themselves and the senior leadership played a big part too.”
Matthew Quissenberry gave Central the game’s first lead by scoring Dewitt on a single in the first, but OCA immediately claimed the lead back with two runs in the second and three in the third.
Central remained unphased, responding with two runs in the fourth and catching fire in the sxith. The Bronchos scored at will in that inning, including RBIs from Mikel Womack, Flood and Dewitt. By the time the sxith inning concluded, the Bronchos held a 9-5 advantage. Flood plated two more in the seventh with a ground ball triple, and secured the win in the inning’s bottom half, forcing three straight OCA outs.
“I have a lot of confidence in Joseph and he was throwing strikes today,” Bussey said. “He had a great day.”