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South Callaway baseball run-rules Centralia in season opener

by Robby Campbell | March 21, 2023 at 4:00 a.m.
South Callaway's Braden Allen gets ready to swing at a pitch by Centralia's Ethan Adams Monday at South Callaway High School in Mokane. South Callaway beat Centralia in its home/season opener. (Fulton Sun/Robby Campbell)

MOKANE -- The Class 3 South Callaway Bulldogs looked like the Class 4 team, as they scored in all but one frame and had a dominant performance by their ace Jacob Martin.

It only took five innings to complete the rout, as South Callaway opened its season with an 11-1 run-rule victory against the Centralia Panthers Monday at South Callaway High School.

While the entire Bulldogs team had a great game, Martin's was the greatest.

Starting with Martin's winning performance on the mound, the senior pitched 4 1/3 innings, allowing one earned run on three hits and two walks while striking out eight.

The Panthers recorded just two hits and walks apiece in the first four innings, and Martin struck out five hitters in that time.

Martin's velocity was matched by his control, as he struck out six while looking and only allowed two walks in his outing.

"He hit his spot," South Callaway coach Heath Lepper said. "Anytime you work with his fastball and slider -- and he locates both -- he's gonna pretty competitive where he was staying at. It's tough for those guys to hit those pitches."

Not only did Martin get it done pitching, but he also did at the plate.

In the bottom of the fourth, Martin smoked a pitch down the middle over the wall in left field (roughly 325 feet) for South Callaway's first home run of the season while giving the Bulldogs a 5-0 lead.

"We want to keep the foot on the gas, so to speak," Lepper said. "Kind of re-lit that fire just a little bit. If there was any letdown after the first two, first three innings, he kind of recharged our batteries a little bit. So we like seeing that out of the leadoff guy."

Martin didn't just hit South Callaway's first dinger, but he also scored the team's first run.

With Braden Allen at the plate in the first, Martin reached home as Centralia's catcher made a throw to first, and the Panthers' first baseman had the darndest time trying to tag JT Thomas -- which he didn't.

If Centralia's first baseman tagged Thomas, that would've gotten the Panthers out of the two-out, bases-loaded jam. But instead, Allen extended the Bulldogs' lead to 2-0 by hitting an RBI single to shallow left field.

Like the first, South Callaway hit a two-out RBI single in the second. Owen Rees did so, using his speed to beat a throw to first from Centralia's shortstop.

South Callaway led 3-0 after two and had its only scoreless frame in the third. That was Panthers starter Ethan Adams's best inning, as he nearly sent the Bulldogs down 1-2-3, but that didn't happen; Tucker Jones reached first on an error by Centralia's third baseman.

Adams was tagged with the loss for the Panthers. He pitched three innings, allowing three unearned runs on two walks and a hit.

Shown by the fact he didn't allow an earned run, Adams limited South Callaway's offense, but Centralia made four errors while its starter was in the game.

Once the Panthers replaced Adams with Mattie Robinson, the Bulldogs' bats came to life.

Robinson began his outing with a leadoff walk before South Callaway's Martin hit a two-run homer during the next at-bat.

The Bulldogs scored another run in the fourth on Ethan Edwards's RBI sacrifice fly to deep center.

Following South Callaway's three-run bottom of the fourth, Centralia's bats came to life in the top of the fifth, scoring one run on two hits.

Martin was taken out of the game by Bulldogs coach Lepper after he hit a batter and allowed a single with one out.

Lepper brought in his son Ryan Lepper to finish the frame for South Callaway, and he did well for the most part.

The one blemish for Lepper was Michael Marcellues's RBI single to left field. Marcellues was the first hitter Lepper faced, and Martin was responsible for the Panthers' run.

After Lepper retired the following two batters, including a strikeout, it was South Callaway's turn to hit.

Robinson had no answer for the Bulldogs' bats; he allowed five runs (four earned) on four walks and a hit before South Callaway secured the run-rule victory.

The Bulldogs scored their first two runs of the fifth on two bases-loaded walks before Edwards drilled a two-RBI single to straightaway center.

During the next at-bat, Thomas called game, hitting a can of corn pop fly behind second that scored a run as Centralia's second baseman couldn't catch the ball.

South Callaway's offense may have been consistent throughout, but it scored eight of its 11 runs (72.8%) in the final two innings. That allowed the Bulldogs to finish the game early and open their season with a win.

"We want to go out and play guys like this," Lepper said. "(Centralia coach Michael Rodgers) does a great job over there with these guys. We just took advantage. Believe it or not, that turf gives us an advantage. We get outside more than most teams with dirt. So we get more ground balls, and I'm sure by the end of the year, he'll have his guys where he wants them."

South Callaway (1-0) will play a smaller nonconference opponent in the Class 1 Jamestown Eagles (0-0) at 5 p.m. Tuesday in Jamestown. It'll be the Bulldogs' first time playing the Eagles in two seasons -- South Callaway is 4-1 in the head-to-head matchup over the last seven seasons.

"Anytime you go to somebody else's house and play them at their place, there's always an advantage there," Lepper said. "If the rain holds off and we go over there, we will look to go play a competitive ballgame with all the same things that we try to do today."

Print Headline: South Callaway baseball run-rules Centralia in season opener


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