CENTER, Tx - Despite their struggles this season, the Center Roughriders continued their mastery over Kirbyville Monday night as CHS completed the season sweep of the Wildcats here at Roughrider Field with a 13-3 win in six innings.
Jonathan Hennigan was dominating for Center, both at the plate and on the hill, as he threw a complete-game three-hitter, while pounding the ball to the tune of a 2-for-4 outing, with three runs batted in, another scored, while connecting with a double as Center improved to 4-14 on the year, 2-6 in District 18-3A play.
"Hennigan bounced back from a pretty rough outing last week," said Center second-year head coach Joey Brown. "I wanted to get him back out there and let him know we still have confidence in him.
"He pitched the way he has all year and did a great job and we're proud of that."
Hennigan pitched the entire six frames, giving up three earned runs on three hits, with 12 strikeouts and four walks. Except for a shaky start in the opening frame, he stayed on top of the Wildcat batters. He even struck out the side in the fourth frame and posted two strikeouts in the second, third, fifth and sixth innings.
"We were going to let him throw about 40 pitches and then evaluate him, but he was doing pretty well, so we decided to leave him in," Brown explained. "As a team, we put it all together tonight. In the past we've had games where we've hit the ball well and not pitched good or pitch well and not hit the ball well. We did everything well tonight and I was proud to see the kids come out and play like that."
Center came back on Tuesday night and was defeated by Huntington, 11-1, to fall back to 4-15 on the season, 2-7 in league play. The 'Riders will have a bye on Friday night and get back on the field next Tuesday when they host Diboll at 7 p.m. for Senior Night. Then they will visit Jasper on April 20 and close out the season at Hudson on April 27.
Center finished Monday's game with a 14-hit attack, with five players having multiple-hit games. Dalton Horton, who, along with Hennigan, has hit over .400 this season, was 3-for-4 with a triple, two runs scored and another driven in.
Sylvester Riley came off the Center bench for a perfect 2-for-2 effort, driving in a pair of runs. Luis Morales went 2-for-3 with three runs scored, two RBIs and a walk. He also had an excellent defensive game at second base, including a sliding catch that was a big play.
Ross Mahan had a 2-for-3 game for Center, stealing a base, walking and scoring once. Gaije Ranes went 1-for-2, with a pair of walks, two runs batted in and two runs scored. Zac Clark singled and drove in a run, Luke Burns singled and plated twice and Josh Burns scored a pair of runs, was hit by a pitch and drove in another.
Kirbyville was led offensively by Ryan Montgomery and Rhett Allday, who both hit doubles. Cody Goins had the other hit for the Wildcats.
Goins was the losing pitcher for Kirbyville. He started the game and worked three innings, allowing nine runs (7 earned) on nine hits with four strikeouts and a walk. Montgomery finished the game, giving up four runs on five hits with three walks and a pair of strikeouts in the final three frames.
Kirbyville looked early on as if it was going to give Center a tight contest as the 'Cats scored a pair of runs on a hit and a pair of walks in the top of the first.
But Center came storming back in the bottom of the inning, scoring three times on five hits to regain the lead for good, 3-2. Hennigan, Horton, Morales and Ranes all had singles in the inning, with Morales pushing in a pair of runs with his hit.
The Roughriders added two more scores in the second frame when Josh Burns and Horton both plated after Horton ripped a triple.
Four more Center players scored in the third on three hits, with Hennigan driving in three of them with a double to left-center.
Leading 9-2, Center coasted for a pair of innings, before Kirbyville scored in the top of the sixth and then the Roughriders pushed four across in the bottom of the frame to end the game with the 10-run rule.
"This team still needs to learn how to win," Brown stated. "I told them tonight I was proud of them because we got up on them early and then coasted for a couple of innings and then they decided they wanted to end this early and they got the four runs in the last inning to do that."
Brown said he'd like to see his team to continue to play well down the stretch and end the season strong. He said, with five underclassmen in the starting lineup the future looks bright for the squad and he wants to see more consistency in the final games.
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