Central Magnet's season ends in AA final four

Central Magnet's season ends in AA final four

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Central Magnet's season ends in AA final four

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MURFREESBORO

The best season in the Central Magnet baseball team’s four-year history ended in the TSSAA Class AA state tournament on Thursday at Blackman High.

Christian Academy of Knoxville defeated the Tigers 9-0 in the lower bracket final to advance to Friday’s AA state championship against District 4-AA-foe Knoxville Catholic at 2 p.m. at MTSU’s Reese Smith Jr. Field.

It was the Central Magnet’s (33-11) first-ever appearance in the final four in just its third varsity season.

“We went to the state tournament last year and we knew what we had back,” Central Magnet coach Buddy Powers said. “The expectations were high this year. That’s why this (loss) hurts so bad right now. We thought we had a chance to win (a state title).

“We got close and that’s because these kids and these coaches made a commitment to get better.”

It was the second time in two days that Central Magnet lost to the Warriors. CAK sent Central to the losers bracket with a 5-1 win on Wednesday afternoon.

“We got farther than we did last year,” Central Magnet senior Austin Worley said. “We would have liked to go a little farther but the odds just weren’t in our favor.

“You’ve got to give a lot of credit to CAK over there. They are a heck of a ball team.”

CAK starting pitcher Brandon Zortman allowed just two hits in six inning to earn the win on the mound. The senior retired the first nine batters he faced in a row.

McKenzie Jackson took the loss for Central Magnet, allowing six runs – five earned – on four hits in 3 1/3 innings.

“Our guys have worked hard and it’s been a long journey,” CAK coach Tommy Pharr said about advancing to the title game. “It’s a great feeling. This is this first time in school history so it’s kind of a neat deal.”

CAK (34-9-1) wasted no time getting on the board in its first at bat in the top of the first inning. Brice McMillan led off the game with a walk and eventually scored for a 1-0 lead on Pierce Merry’s single to right field.

The Warriors added runs by Parker Cochran and Merry in the second and third innings to push their lead to 3-0 after three.

CAK then blew the game open with a four-run fourth inning for a 7-0 advantage in which Central Magnet changed pitchers twice.

Trey Hinton, who drove in Cochran in the second, McMillan, Merry and John Sharpe each scored in the top of the fourth for the Warriors on four hits.

Central Magnet responded by loading the bases with one out in the bottom half of the inning after a walk to Jacob Crume and singles by Darek Sargent and Worley.

But an infield fly and a groundout ended the Tigers’ only threat of the game.

“We had three hits against them (in two games),” Powers said. “You’ve got to have a little more offense than that when you get to this stage.”

Sharpe and Justin Feist scored in the top of the sixth inning to provide the final margin.

Alex Osborne finished 3-for-5 with three RBI for CAK, while Merry finished 2-for-3 with two runs scored and two RBI.

It was the final game for nine Central Magnet seniors. The group finished their careers with back-to-back state tournament berths, including the school’s first final four appearance.

“It shows the heart that we all have together,” Worley said about his fellow seniors. “I’d love to be with these nine guys anytime.”

CAK 9, Central Magnet 0

CAK – 111 402 0 – 9 10 0

Central Magnet – 000 000 0 – 0 2 2

Brandon Zortman, Drew Homan (7) and Alex Osborne. McKenzie Jackson, Mike Zapay (4), Austin Worley (4), Wesley Duffield (7). WP: Zortman. LP: Jackson.

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