STE. GENEVIEVE – The Class 4, District 2 baseball tournament has devoured the seasons of multiple higher-seeded teams for yet another year.
Third-seeded Central joined fourth-seeded Potosi in an all-MAAA rivalry championship round – albeit one day later than expected – after ousting defending champion Festus 4-2 on Tuesday.
The semifinal contest was suspended by rain and lightning on Monday after the Rebels had just erupted for a four-run rally in the top of the sixth inning.
Central (17-8) obtained the needed six outs following a 7 p.m. resumption at Yanks’ Field, and will challenge the Trojans for the title on Thursday.
Jace Bland finished 3-for-4, and fellow senior Holden Mayberry singled twice for Central, which had to regroup after having a night to sleep on a 4-1 cushion.
Cade Scherffius flirted with danger in relief, but allowed only an unearned run on four hits to register his second save. Jake Leitner narrowed the gap with an RBI single in the bottom of the sixth.
Festus (16-8) threatened as Charlie Pratt was plunked and Chase Cole singled in the seventh. Scherffius answered with his third strikeout before Garett Bowen tracked a fly ball in left-center to end it.
Winning pitcher Dillon Manion threw five innings and struck out four before action was halted Monday. Festus generated its only three hits against him during the first inning.
Cole was caught stealing by catcher Dylan Corcoran, but Eddie Martin and Matt Rosen singled ahead of Collin Mann’s RBI ground out.
Manion worked around two walks in the second inning, and retired 10 consecutive batters. Pitch count restrictions prohibited any notion of sending him back to the mound on Tuesday.
Festus starter Leitner was tremendous through five innings, allowing harmless singles to Bland and Luke Gaia while mowing down 15 of his first 17 batters faced.
He was aided by a running catch in right-center by Brennan Pryor in the fourth as volatile winds turned some fly balls into menacing challenges.
The Central lineup broke through in the sixth after Manion drew a leadoff, four-pitch walk. He advanced on a single by Mayberry, and Bland drilled a tying RBI double.
Braydon Scherffius followed with an RBI hit that got past the right fielder, and Bland crossed the plate behind Mayberry to put the Rebels ahead 3-1.
Tanner Smith capped the pivotal surge by greeting reliever Pratt with an RBI single.
Central overcame a late deficit for the second straight contest after emerging from 2-1 down in the ninth inning to defeat De Soto on Saturday.