BY CHRIS LEE
Centennial pitcher Bryson Sweeney finished strong, leading the Cougars to a 3-2 win over Page on Wednesday night at Centennial.
The senior right-hander survived a two-run first inning, striking out five in a complete-game victory. He added a single and a double at the plate, and scored the tying run in the sixth.
The Cougars (5-3) didn’t muster much offense, but two successful bunts helped Centennial plate a pair of runs in the sixth that were the difference.
“I’m super proud of the way Bryson competed,” Centennial coach Rob Baughman said. “I’m proud of the way we played defense. It was a tough game. Hats off to [starting pitcher Jude Barcus] from Page, he kept us off-balance all game.”
Barcus, a lefty, pitched 4 2/3 innings of one-run ball, striking out three while walking just one and yielding four hits while using a fastball and a curve.
Page second baseman Eston Snider had a great night, rapping a single and a pair of doubles.
Sweeney throws four pitches, but was particularly effective with a hard two-seam fastball that sometimes tails in to right-handers, and a sharp-breaking curve. He had a tough first inning, but struck out five and gave up six hits. He didn’t walk or hit a batter.
“He changes his arm slot a little bit,” Baughman said. “He’ll throw a change-up, he’ll throw a curve ball, he’ll throw a little bit of a slider. He’s a very, very good pitcher. He doesn’t necessarily throw super hard, but he can pitch.”
“I usually try to start off with my fastball and get ahead with that. … But then when they’ve seen that, I go with my curve ball to throw them off,” Sweeney said.
Page (3-7) struck first when Ronnie Caricoffe doubled to deep left, scoring Snider from first. Cade Walker’s ground-out scored a second run.
The Cougars answered in the third, when third baseman Solomon Washington doubled to deep center, scoring second baseman Alec Beaman with two outs.
Christian Tidmore, who started at third, relieved Barcus with a man on in the fifth and got a ground-out to Snider to end the inning.
Sweeney led off the sixth with a double to left-center off Tidmore. Jonathan Poullard walked, and Ben Brown dropped down a bunt. Tidmore fielded and threw wide of third, allowing a man to score and putting two in scoring position.
Then, right fielder John Michael Law dropped a perfect sacrifice bunt down first, bringing in the winning run.
“I can’t say enough about John Michael, because it was a suicide squeeze,” Baughman said. “It was make-or-break, and he got a perfect bunt down.”
Page’s Hunter Lillard dumped a single into right with one out to give the Patriots a chance. But Sweeney got a pair of ground-outs to the left side to end the night.