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CENTRAL HIGH —
No. 12 Central High kicked off its season in dominant fashion, winning 12-3 versus Elmore City-Pernell Friday.
The game was originally supposed to at Elmore City, but their fields were still damaged from the rainfall earlier this week. So the Bronchos hosted the matchup, but Central High coach Jeff Jones still allowed his opponents to be the home team.
Designated as the visitors, the Bronchos used a seven-run top of the fifth to pull out the victory in five innings. While the final scoreline looked like a blowout, they were actually down for part of the game due to the offensive struggles.
“It wasn’t you’re typical 12-3 win, because we were on the ropes there for a while,” coach Jeff Jones said. “But that’s part of the game. They had one or two mistakes and we busted it open.”
The Bronchos put a lot of pressure on the Badgers’ fielders with their speed. They were successful on all 15 of their stolen base attempts, with only a few actually being close calls. Sophomore Joseph Flood led the team with four stolen bases and scored on a wild pitch. The Bronchos needed that production, because they had a hard time getting hits off Elmore City’s starter.
“He kept us off balance and he threw harder than anything we’d seen during this offseason,” Jones said. “After they did make a mistake, we capitalized on it. That’s what you have to do be a good baseball team.”
That fell mostly on the shoulders of freshman Keeton Sallee, who went 2-3 in the game with three RBIs. Sallee was the only hitter for either team to get the ball to the outfield with consistency. He had a walk, a double and a triple, despite the howling wind.
“I didn’t get many good pitches the first time,” Sallee said. “Once I got to the second time, he finally threw me a strike and I teed off on it.”
Senior Kade Taylor started the game for the Bronchos, but stepped off the mound after allowing two runs on two hits in a little over two innings pitched. Sophomore Casey Reed came in for relief and closed out the game. He allowed only one run, which came after the Bronchos were up 12-2.
“That’s big,” Jones said. “Casey did a great job. He threw strikes, and that’s all you have to do on a day like this with the wind blowing straight in.”
Jones added that the reason he pitched those two players was they were able to get the most time pitching in practice before the season started. He said before the season started that he expects as many as seven players to try their hands on the mound.
The Bronchos next game is at home versus Ringling on Monday. They follow that up with a home game versus Chattanooga on Tuesday before heading off to the Sterling tournament for the rest of the week.