The California High School varsity baseball team faced the #4 seeded Centralia Panthers Saturday in the opening round of the Class 3 District 8 Baseball Tournament at North Callaway, where the #5 seeded Pintos suffered a 12-10 loss to end the season.
"My boys played well," California Coach Dwight Fitzwater said. "They just came out on the short end of the stick. When you score 10 runs, you win the game, but we didn't. Our pitching was good early on, but the Centralia hitters came to life in the fourth inning with seven runs that ultimately did us in. We did came back to tie the game in the sixth, but they scored two in the bottom of the sixth inning to do us in."
California led 3-0 after one inning and 6-0 after three, however, Centralia scored seven in the fourth to lead 7-6, then added three runs in the fifth to lead 10-6. The Pintos came back with four runs in the sixth to even the game at 10-10, but the Lions added two runs in the sixth to take the lead back, 12-10. A scoreless seventh inning left the win with Centralia.
"It was a well played game and very entertaining for the fans," Fitzwater said.
Burke Brant was California's starting pitcher, while Alec Koelling and Jason Wolverton pitched relief.
JT Trachsel had a hot bat to lead the Pintos with two homeruns, a double and eight RBI.
"JT has done a great job all year driving in runs for us," Fitzwater said.
Brant followed with three singles and two RBI, while Jaden Barr also had three singles. Tyler Silvey had two singles and Austin Gump contributed a double. Koelling, Dylan Albertson, Randy Allee and Wolverton each chipped in with a single.
"I thought we might be able to win this district, but I knew Centralia was a formidable foe," Fitzwater said. "I wouldn't be supprised if Centralia wins the district. I am proud of our boys. They played hard all season and the teams we played knew they had their hands full with us. I look forward to next year, though we'll miss our seniors very much. They all contributed to our success this season and will be hard to replace."
Monday night in the semifinal round of the Class 3 District 8 Tourney, top-seeded Hallsville defeated Centralia 2-0, and #2 seeded Wright City defeated #3 seeded North Callaway 7-1. Hallsville will play Wright City for the district championship at 6 p.m. today (Wednesday).
Previously, the Pintos played back-to-back games against Osage and Eldon May 7-8, where California ended the regular season with a big 11-8 win against the Mustangs, in extra innings.
"I was happy to get the win," Fitzwater said. "Jason Wolverton was our big weapon against Eldon. While he wasn't our starting pitcher, he was the difference-maker in the game. He pitched 6 2/3rds innings, only allowing one earned run on eight hits, and had two walks and five strikeouts."
Trailing 8-6 after four innings, the Pintos added two runs in the sixth to even the score at 8-8. A scoreless seventh inning led to extra innings, and it wasn't until the ninth that California scored three runs and held Eldon scoreless to secure the win.
"Wolverton came through with the bat as well," Fitzwater said. "He was 2 for 3 with a big RBI in the final inning. Great effort by senior Jason Wolverton."
The Pintos had 18 hits to Eldon's 11.
Allee contributed a single, a double and three RBI.
"Two of Randy Allee's RBI were in the final inning to break the Mustangs," Fitzwater said. "Jaden Barr was almost perfect with a 5 for 6 night and he scored four of our runs. We hit the ball well. We weren't as steller on defense, but I was very pleased with our offense. I want us to play more effectively on defense."
Brant chipped in with a double, a single and one RBI, while Koelling had three singles and one RBI, and Albertson contributed a single and RBI. Trachsel, Bret Volmert and Gump each had a single as well.
California's JV game against Eldon ended in a tie, 5-5.
Previously, California's varsity played Blair Oaks at Osage May 7, where the Pintos suffered a 13-1 loss to the Falcons.
"We simply got our rear ends kicked," Fitzwater said. "They hit the ball hard the entire game. We did make defensive plays, but couldn't get anything going offensively. Blair Oaks' pitcher was the best we've seen all year. Hats off to him and their entire team. I don't like to lose anytime and to lose by so much is embarassing, but I'd rather lose this way, than to commit several errors and give the game away. We have a good team, we just faced a team that was hot."
Brant led California hits with a single and RBI. Gump chipped in with a single.
California's JV played a double-header at Wardsville May 7, where the Pintos lost both games to the Falcons, 14-0 and 10-3.