CENTRAL — Heading into the bottom of seventh inning, Central Private coach Jason Kinchen predicted how the game would end. Four batters later, his prophecy came true.
Central Private (16-11) defeated Brookhaven Academy 3-2 on a walk-off single by first baseman Kris Templet in game one of the MAIS Class 2A second-round game played Tuesday night at CPS. The teams play a second game at Brookhaven (17-9) on Thursday. If third game, if needed, is also set for Thursday. Templet was 3-for-4 at the plate for the Rebels.
“The last inning when they (Brookhaven) tied it up, I said, ‘This is what’s going to happen: Cockerham’s going to get on base, Trahan’s going to bunt him over and then Templet is going to come through with a game-winning hit,’” Kinchen explained.
“It was a great game,” Brookhaven coach Casey Edwards said. “It seems like every time we come down here it goes seven, and it’s determined in the seventh.”
The game started off as a pitcher’s duel. Brookhaven’s Zach Dickerson picked up the loss for the Cougars, but was superb most of the game. After loading the bases in the top of first inning, Dickerson struck out three straight batters. He retired the next 12 Rebel hitters through five innings. Dickerson allowed three earned runs, with nine strikeouts and a walk and was 3-for-4 at the plate.
“He (Dickerson) was nervous to begin with, and when I went out there to talk to him in the first inning I could tell that,” Edwards said. “But he’s got great stuff, and I told him just to relax and be himself.”
Despite giving up seven hits in the first six innings, Central Private’s Brandon Trahan worked himself out of innings, forcing Brookhaven hitters to fly or ground out. He allowed one earned run, with one strikeout and two walks. Trahan was assisted by his defense led by third baseman Alec Martin, who scooped numerous balls throughout the game.
“I came out here, just located and threw curves and kept people off balance, but Alec Martin did a heck of a job tonight,” Trahan said.
Heading into the bottom of the sixth inning tied at 0-0, the Rebels had manufactured only two hits.
“I told them to keep playing defense and keep the score within reach and that someone would have to come through with a clutch hit,” Kinchen said. “Their guy (Dickerson) was getting us out on the outside corner so I told them to choke up and get up on the plate.”
The first three Rebels batters singled, giving Central Private a 1-0 lead. Two batters later, left fielder Jesse Summers blasted a RBI double in to the right field corner to extend the lead to 2-0 heading into the top of the seventh inning.
Brookhaven (17-9) responded with a leadoff single in the top of the seventh inning by Dickerson. Catcher Landon Nettles reached on a diving attempt by Summers in left field. Two batters later, Cougar left fielder Heath Hickman ripped a two-RBI single.
With one out in the bottom of the seventh, Thomas Doucet entered the game in relief for Central Private. Doucet forced Brookhaven’s Boyd to pop out in foul territory and got a strike out to end the threat. Doucet picked up the win for Central Private, allowing no runs with one strikeout.
In the bottom of the seventh inningPinch-hitter Mason Cockerham drew a walk. Trahan bunted Cockerham over to second base. One out later, Templet stepped up to bat and ripped a single down the first base line to score Cockerman and win the game 3-2.
“I just trusted my hands, and I just relaxed,” Templet said. “He (Dickerson) had us on our front from a lot, and I just told myself to stay back and it came through.”
Templet led the Rebels, going 3-for-4, with an RBI. Brennan Albarez went 2-for-3 with a RBI.
“We’re real young and have a lot of inexperienced players, but throughout the season they’ve grown and matured,” Kinchen said. “They’re starting to play defense, they’re starting to pitch and they’re coming through with hits in the right time of the year: playoff time.”