CHARITON — It may not have been the prettiest game of the season for the No. 10 (3-A) Centerville Big Reds. But, as head coach Bill Huisman said, his team powered through just enough to pick up the conference-clinching victory.
“This is the kind of stuff that if you don’t do right in big games, it’s going to cost you,” Huisman said. “But in the end, we got just enough done to take care of it.”
After the Big Reds came from behind with a six-run third inning to win game one 7-1, they used some extra inning run manufacturing to break a 2-2 tie in the nightcap. The Big Reds, led by starting pitcher Kolton Gonnerman, ended up retiring the side in the bottom of the eighth to take a 3-2 win.
That win clinched the Big Reds’ first conference title since 2008 and continued the Big Reds’ run to a perfect conference season with a 15-0 record in the South Central Conference.
Chariton picked up a 1-0 lead when Adam Kaska scored on a double by Austin Ritenour in the first inning of game one. The Big Reds started off slow but turned things around in the top of the third inning.
After Centerville went 1-2-3 in the second inning, they came back to score six runs in the third inning, three of which came with two outs.
After a lead off single, Hunter Cowan scored when Payton Kauzlarich connected for a one-out single up the middle. Grant Walker scored on a single by Michael Firkins, giving the Reds a 2-1 lead.
Gonnerman, Firkins, Michael Starcevich and Armington all came around to score before Chariton could grab the final out of the inning, giving the Reds a commanding 6-1 lead after three innings of play.
In the top of the seventh inning, the Reds would pick up an extra insurance run. Starcevich would hit a two-out double to the right side, before he scored on a throwing error by the catcher who was trying to pick him off at third base.