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Eagles two losses put them out of playoffs

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By Shug Haigler

Central’s baseball team made a quick exit from the state playoffs last week losing both of their games.

Central hosted Batesburg Leesville Panthers and lost 9-2 on Thursday, April 26. The visitors scored four runs in the second inning and single runs in the third and fourth innings. They put the game out of reach with three more runs in the fifth. The Eagles scored their two runs in the home half of the fifth with doubles coming from Sam Caldwell and Kelton Myers.

Hitting safely for the Eagles were Robbie Burch, Trey Sowell, Drake Plyler and J.R. Mangum with one hit each and Kelton Myers with one hit, one run and one RBI and Sam Caldwell one hit, one run.

The Eagles were eliminated Saturday, April 28 at home as they saw a seventh inning rally come up one run short in a 7-6 loss to the Broome Centurions.

Central took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first on Burch’s lead- off home run and added another in the second on Drake Plyler’s solo homer. The visitors got on the board with a single run in the third to trim the Eagles’ lead to 2-1. The Eagles increased their lead in their half of the inning with Caldwell’s double and Ryheem Lockhart’s RBI single being the key hits.

Broome countered with two runs in their half of the sixth to trim the Eagles margin to 4-3.

The last inning proved to be the dagger in the Eagles that had the Centurions score four runs to build their lead to 7-4. Central mounted a rally as Lockhart led off with a double. The next two batters flew out, but back-to-back doubles by Joseph Rollings and J.R. Mangum cut the lead to 7-6. The game and the season ended when the next batter failed to reach base.

Hitting safely were Burch with one hit (HR), one run and one RBI; Sowell with two hits; Rollings with one hit, one run and one RBI; Mangum with one hit and one RBI; Plyler with one hit (HR), one run, one RBI, and Lockhart with two hits, one run and one RBI.

Mangum, one of only two seniors on the Eagles team commented after the game.

“Some folks didn’t expect much from us this year because we were so young, but we came together as a team and overall had a pretty good year. I have enjoyed the four years I played baseball,” he said. “I also believe this team was closer than in years past and it was great playing for Coach Leaird, Coach Eubanks and Coach Usher.”

Assistant Coach Marty Eubanks said, “I’m proud of the effort the kids put forth this year. We played for the region championship this year, but came in second. We appreciate J.R. and what he has meant to our baseball program the past four years. We have made the challenge to the non-football players to hit the weight room in preparation for next year.”

Head Coach Mitch Leaird spoke on the end of his Eagles’ season. 

“We didn’t end on a winning note, but we finished second in our region and I would have taken that at the beginning of the season. We had only three kids with any varsity experience. The JV’s came up and really did a good job for us,” he said. “This group was one of the best we’ve had to work with. We have 14 of 16 players on our roster who will return next year so if we avoid injuries we will be okay next year.”