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CENTRAL HIGH —
After 16 innings and six hours of baseball Friday night at Broncho Field, Central High head coach David Bussey could finally breathe.
And given what he and the rest of the Broncho faithful had just witnessed, no one could blame him for cracking a huge smile across his face.
Central High used two come from behind victories to overturn a 1-0 series deficit against Fletcher, to claim the district title.
“These kids gave tremendous effort and heart out there,” Bussey said. “We had gutsy performances from everyone. When you have a freshman go nine innings pitching in a must win game, that’s big. Our seniors stepped up and hit the ball as well. Jarrett (Sparks) was seeing the ball good and it probably looked like a big basketball to him. I’ve won a lot of districts in my career, but this is the one I really wanted for these kids.”
CENTRAL HIGH 8 FLETCHER 7 F/9
When his team needed him the most, senior Jarrett Sparks stepped up.
Down 7-6 in the bottom of the seventh inning, Sparks sent a dribbler through the left side of the infield to tie the game at 7-7 for the Bronchos.
Then, in the bottom of the ninth with the bases loaded, Sparks did it again with a walk-off single to right field to give CHHS an 8-7 win to even the series.
“I took every at-bat like it was my last one out there tonight,” Sparks said. “It was just about doing whatever it took to help the guys win. You can’t put something like this into words.”
Joseph Flood got the Bronchos on the board with an RBI single in the bottom of the first, before Austen Dewitt put Central High up 3-2 with a two-RBI single that found its way through the infield.
Shelby Moon and John Black gave the Wildcats the lead again in the top of the third, as they each registered RBI hits, making it 4-3.
Levi Nix put the Bronchos in a hole with a two-RBI single to right field, making it 6-3 in the top of the fourth.
John Repp gave Central High a glimmer of hope with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the fourth, before Ashton Wright scored from second on a throwing error in the bottom of the fifth.
After Daven Anthony made it 7-5 for the Wildcats in the top of the sixth, Fletcher imploded in the bottom of the seventh, literally.
A violent collision in left field between FHS players Shelby Moon and Dain Hyde allowed Flood to collect an RBI and end up on third base, which set up Sparks just two batters later.
Matthew Quisenberry got the win on the mound for the Bronchos, striking out one batter in the ninth inning.
Flood ended up with a no-decision, after pitching into the ninth inning, striking out six, and walking just one batter while allowing 12 hits.
Moon was tagged with the loss for Fletcher, allowing three runs on four hits with three strikeouts and one walk in 2 and 1/3 innings of work.
CENTRAL HIGH 13 FLETCHER 6
Finding themselves down 5-1 in the third inning, Central High pulled off another comeback.
11 runs in four innings were more than enough to push the Bronchos over the finish line and give them a district title.
Jarrett Sparks once again stepped up for the Bronchos, hitting two two-RBI doubles in the game, along with adding a sacrifice fly RBI.
Mikel Womack also collected a two-RBI hit in the game, which put the Bronchos up 12-5 in the top of the sixth inning.
Joseph Flood and Austen Dewitt each hit RBI doubles in the top of the fourth inning to put CHHS up 7-5.
Roger Robertson got the win on the mound for the Bronchos, throwing 4 1/3 innings of work, allowing three runs on two hits with three strikeouts and five walks.
Shelby Moon was tagged with the loss for the Wildcats, allowing three runs on five hits with three strikeouts and one walk.
Central High will now await where it will be playing in the regional tournament, which will be announced this week.