Center Edges Carthage In Walk-Off Win
CENTER -- The weather finally broke Monday and, with a lot of hard labor from Center's coaching staff in the final hours, the Roughriders and Carthage were able to play their highly anticipated game.
It was worth the wait.
No. 14 Center edged the No. 24 Bulldogs with a hit-and-run, a throwing error and a close play at home plate all in one sequence for a 6-5, walk-off win in District 19-4A action.
"We were scheduled to play this game last Friday and it was supposed to be in Carthage," Roughriders head coach David Sheppard said. "Their outfield is in bad shape. So me and all my coaches throughout the day came out here. We mowed it and raked it, mowed it and raked it. It was a total team deal. The kids worked, too, trying to make it playable."
The downside for Carthage (4-7, 1-1) -- just happy to get the game in -- was it had to travel to a ballpark with its own unique characteristics. Center's field is deep and its foul territories are vast.
Two errant throws on routine plays past the first baseman into foul territory cost the Bulldogs two runs. The second situational error ended the game.
Roughriders utility man and TCU signee Dalton Horton blooped a pitch just behind Carthage's infield to get on base with one out in the bottom of the seventh inning in a 5-5 game.
Five pitches later, Horton took off on a hit-and-run with Caiden Rainbolt at the plate.
Rainbolt skipped the ball to third base, but the throw to first was off the mark and on into the abyss of foul territory. It allowed Horton to take second and third base uncontested.
Horton charged on home. The throw to the plate was too far outside for the catcher to have a chance.
"Honestly, I was a little nervous," Horton said. "I saw the ball coming in and thought I might be hosed. I saw them miss it and that was it. 'Let's go home.'"
Center advanced to 9-1-1 overall and 3-0 in league play.
Horton had a fantastic game. He scored three times, batted 3-for-4 with an RBI and played a hand in seven put outs from his spot at first base.
On the other side of the equation was pitcher Jacob Mitchell. The starter threw 119 pitches in a seven-hit, complete game win.
Mitchell appeared spent entering the top of the seventh. His first throw of the frame missed wildly to the outside.
But the game's winner knocked down Carthage's three, four and five-hole hitters on six more pitches to set up the finish.
"Throwing pitches and getting the W means that much more," Mitchell said. "Having all this rain, you're wondering when you're actually going to get the game in. To get out here, have this big game on the line and get the W is real big."
The Bulldogs had to rally back from a 3-0 deficit at the end of the first inning.
Josh Burns drew a leadoff walk for Center on six pitches and was batted in by Taylor Tomlin after a sacrifice bunt from Jared Wiggins. Horton and Rainbolt hit back-to-back RBI doubles.
Carthage's Will Stacy knocked in Anthony Chhor in the top of the second with a sacrifice fly.
The Bulldogs batted around the order in the third frame with RBIs from Cagan Baldree, Chhor and Stacy for a 4-3 lead.
Center immediately bounced back with consecutive singles from shortstop Taylor Tomlin and Horton. An error against Rainbolt's sacrifice bunt allowed Tomlin to tie the game. Horton scored on the next at-bat through a sacrifice bunt from catcher Brett Clark.
Carthage answered again in the bottom fourth with a solo home run from Jarod Blissett to left-center field.
The Bulldogs hop right back in the saddle with a 7 p.m. game today at Rusk. Center is off until Friday and will host Rusk.
"It was a huge win," Sheppard said. "We talked about it before the game. We play three rounds of district, so we really try to break it down like it's a college series. Best case scenario, you win all three. But at least you want to win two out of the three. Winning game one, you've got two more to win the series."
No. 14 Center 6, No. 24 Carthage 5
At Center High School
Carthage 013 100 0 -- 5 7 3
Center 302 000 1 -- 6 8 1
Pitchers and catchers
- Carthage: Cole Clinton and Micah Templeton.
- Center: Jacob Mitchell and Brett Clark.
WP -- Mitchell.
LP -- Clinton.
- Center: Brett Clark, Dalton Horton, Caiden Rainbolt.
- Carthage: Jarod Blissett.