PARK HILLS — It was a windy Thursday afternoon as the Central Rebels and Fredericktown Blackcats hooked up for each team’s conference opener at the Park Hills Sports Complex. The swirling wind played havoc on both defenses throughout the game. The Rebels took advantage of a couple of late fielding miscues by the Blackcats, and claimed their second consecutive victory by a 5-4 margin.
Brock Boren started on the mound for the Rebels and was countered by Fredericktown’s Josh Skaggs. Boren flirted with danger throughout his time on the hill, but was able to escape by retiring the Blackcats’ at crucial moments. Fredericktown loaded the bases in each of the first three innings, but hurt themselves by failing to score.
Central’s Tim Hafner smashed a one-out double in the bottom of the first. He scored the game’s first run after a ball hit by Trent Hartley was caught in up the jetstream and dropped harmlessly in left-center field.
Boren helped his own cause at the dish in the third inning, when he crushed a two-run homer to right, giving the Rebels a 3-0 lead. Fredericktown immediately responded by scoring three times in the top of the fourth inning. After allowing two Blackcats to reach in the inning, Boren was pulled in favor of junior David Kennard.
Skaggs scored the Blackcats’ first run when Corey Lawson reached base on an error. Joaby Sikes scored from third on a balk by Kennard to make it a 3-2 game. Sophomore D.J. Hinkle lined a single to center, allowing Lawson to score from second base.
Fredericktown took the lead in the fifth inning. The Blackcats pounded out three straight singles, with the last being an RBI hit by Skaggs that scored Nathan Thompson. Kennard bounced back to retire the next three hitters he faced to end the frame.
The Rebels put their leadoff man on base in the bottom of the sixth, but lost that runner between third base and home plate. Central caught a huge break when a ball hit by Brett Meador was misplayed in the outfield, allowing Meador to go all the way to third base. Meador scored to tie the game at 4-4, when Kennard roped a single to left.
Jake Johnson moved from the catcher position to pitch the seventh inning for the Rebels. Johnson set the Blackcats down in order, setting the stage for Rebels offense in the bottom of the seventh. Johnson led off with a single and stole second. Boren stepped to the plate and lifted a high fly ball to centerfield. The ball was dropped and Johnson came all the way around from second base to score the game winning run.
Johnson picked up the win by virtue of a perfect seventh inning. Skaggs was tagged with the loss, despite pitching a solid game. Skaggs pitched a complete game, allowed seven hits and four walks, while striking out nine Rebels.
Central (2-1) will host Arcadia Valley on Monday, while Fredericktown (1-1) plays at Festus today as part of the Festus Tournament.