BRYAN – After having to wait two days later to begin District Tournament play due to rain, the North Central Eagles and Ayersville Pilots finally met on May 25th in a rematch of last year’s semi-final contest. The Eagles Baseball Team’s hopes of advancing to the Regional Tournament for the first time since 1989 came to a crashing halt after a rugged first inning.
Eagle starting pitcher Kole Peterson battled early control problems as he walked the first two batters, both on full counts. Ayersville’ s Joe Goonan laid a perfect bunt down the third base line to load the bases with no one out. Clean-up batter Mason Aelker grounded to short, but an errant throw to second sent the potential double-play ball into right-field as three Pilots crossed the plate and Aelker ended up on second. Peterson settled down after the miscue and ended the damage by striking out the next three batters. [emember_protected custom_msg=”Full content protected for online subscribers. Purchase a one week subscription from the top menu bar for just $1.99 to read all online content (full access). Longer subscription plans are also available. Subscriptions cover our costs to attend local events; bringing forth Hometown News Coverage to our communities.”]
North Central threatened to cut the deficit in their half of the first. Jalen Dancer walked, and was promptly advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Josh Sawyer. Ayersville pitcher, Aelker struck out Peterson for the second out. Dancer swiped third, but the threat ended when Aelker snagged a shot up the middle off the bat of Dylan Hutchison and the Eagles trailed 3-0 after one inning.
Both pitchers held the opponents offenses in check until the bottom of the fourth frame. Peterson walked to begin the inning. Hutchison took an Aelker curveball off of his foot placing runners on first and second with no one out. The Pilots registered two quick outs when Hutchison was picked off first and Ferguson fanned. Pilmore and Bethel walked to once again load the bases. Aelker was able to work out of the jam and survive the three walks and hit batsman allowed in the inning by striking out Jordan Reeves.
Ayersville padded their lead in the top of the fifth when they added two more runs. An infield single, then a blooper to right put the Pilots on first and third with no one out. A steal of second, followed by a groundout to second, made the score 4-0. Peterson struck out the next batter for out number two. However, a passed ball allowed the fifth run to score before a fly ball to Dancer ended the inning.
The game remained 5-0 until the bottom of the seventh. With one out, Branden Turner broke up Aelker’s no-hit bid with a single to right-field. Dancer walked putting runners on first and second with one out. Sawyer flied out to the first baseman for the second out. Turner and Dancer advanced to third and second via a balk by Aelker. Peterson dropped a fly ball just past the shortstop’s reach allowing Turner to score and Dancer to move to third making the score 5-1. That was where the season would end for the Eagles however as Hutchison flew out to second to end the contest.
North Central was unable to take advantage of Aelker’s control problems. The pitcher issued nine walks and hit one batter. However, the Eagles were able to muster just the two hits in the seventh inning, had two runners picked off, and stranded nine players on the bases.
Senior Kole Peterson went the distance on the mound for North Central. After the difficult first inning, Peterson settled down and finished the game allowing three earned runs on four hits, fanned nine, walked five and plunked one batter with a pitch.
Turner’s single broke up Aelker’s no hit bid with one out in the seventh inning. Peterson’s also singled to drive in the Eagles only run in the seventh inning.
North Central’s season concludes with a 15-13 overall record. The Eagles say goodbye to three seniors, Ryan Bethel, Jalen Dancer, and Kole Peterson. “The three seniors have had very successful careers at North Central. We thank them for their contributions and wish them only the best”, commented Eagle Head Coach Eric Smeltzer.
Runs / Hits / Errors
Ayersville 5 – 4 – 0
North Central 1 – 2 – 2