BY CHRIS LEE
FRANKLIN, Tenn.—Centennial’s late rally fell short, as the Cougars fell 5-4 at home to Stewarts Creek on Saturday afternoon.
Trailing 5-0 in the sixth, Centennial (2-2) rallied for four runs. A bases-loaded double to left-center by shortstop Solomon Washington scored three, and a bases-loaded walk to pitcher Alec Beaman plated another.
Centennial had men on first and second in the seventh, but Bryson Givens struck out to end the game.
Beaman, who struck out six in four innings, and second baseman Cole Miller, who threw three innings of one-run relief and fanned two, pitched well.
But defensive mis-plays in the middle innings created a deficit that Centennial couldn’t quite escape. Stewart’s Creek scored two in each of the third and fourth, each time with help from the Cougars.
“I’m glad that we battled back and had an opportunity to score a run, and maybe tie the game, but a little disappointed defensively,” Centennial coach Rob Baughman said. “We’ve got to clean that up and we’ll be okay.”
“We came out slow, but we finally got it together towards the end,” Washington said.
Beaman was especially crisp, needing seven pitches to generate a pair of ground-ball outs and a swinging strikeout.
The second wasn’t as easy, but Beaman pitched out of two-on, no-out trouble with a pair of strikeouts, followed by a nice play from Miller, then playing second, to charge a grounder off the bat handle and throw just in time to nip DH Austin Wooten at first.
Disaster struck in the third.
With one out, Red Hawk left fielder Sam Slaughter hit a ground ball to Miller at second. It was a tough play and Miller threw low to first, allowing Slaughter to reach. Beaman hit shortstop Bryson Givens with the next pitch.
Next, shortstop Mac Curtis drove a pitch almost to the wall in left center. Center fielder Sam Cooper ran towards the ball, but had trouble with the sun.
Cooper couldn’t make a play on it. Slaughter scored, and the ensuing throw got past catcher Jonathan Poullard, who chased it down. Givens noticed that nobody was covering home, and raced home easily with a second run.
“I was a little disappointed defensively, because I felt we pitched really well,” Baughman said. “When you can’t make the routine plays—the plays that we missed in that situation—then [Beaman’s] got to throw an extra 30 pitches in that situation, which is tough.
A pair of Centennial errors contributed to two Red Hawk runs in the top of the fourth, making the lead 4-0.
Washington, who’s committed to Tennessee Tech to play baseball, brought the Cougars to within striking distance.
“My team did the things they needed to do,” Washington said. “Everybody got on base. I tried to do my best to move them and get them in. It’s tough that we couldn’t get more runs.”
Beaman had two hits and walked twice.