Central and Southside received near-perfect weather for their baseball game at the Class 3A Yorktown Sectional on Wednesday. The muggy weather that briefly generated a lightning delay during another game earlier in the day cleared, producing sunny conditions with an announced temperature in the high 60s as the Bearcats and Rebels began their game. The forecast had no plans to postpone the inevitable.
The baseball game served as the last head-to-head meeting between the two city rivals in any sport. Muncie Community Schools announced plans to consolidate the two schools in November, meaning this school year produced a series of final head-to-head meetings before all high school athletes in the district are Central Bearcats.
Central won the game, picking up a 13-1 victory with a late barrage of runs to pad the margin. With the victory, Central will face Delta in Saturday’s sectional semifinals.
Delta defeated Blackford 6-0 in Wednesday’s earlier game. Yorktown and Hamilton Heights will meet in Saturday’s other semifinal.
Joe Scruggs pitched a complete game for the Bearcats in the victory. He allowed two hits, both in the first inning. In each subsequent inning, Scruggs only faced three batters, though he did walk a batter in the second inning who was then caught stealing.
Scruggs was also one of the Bearcats’ offensive leaders, picking up two singles and a double. Teammate Taylor Shroyer also had two singles and a double. Braiden Reynolds and Levi Vallad each had a single for Southside.
Southside’s fans sat along the third-base side behind the Rebels’ dugout, with the Bearcats’ contingent situated along the first-base line near their team’s dugout. A handful of students were present from each school.
Among the notable attendees were Tom Lyon, who is completing a stint of more than a decade as the athletic director at Southside.
Also present was Suzanne Crump, who will serve as the athletic director at Central when the two schools are consolidated in the fall.
Rob Fisher, the former Central coach who retired in the offseason, was also present to see his former team. Fisher said he planned to attend the game regardless of Central’s opponent, but the fact that Southside was the foe was an added bonus.
“The Central-South rivalry has been awesome,” Fisher said. “There were some really intense games. So, yeah, it’s kind of sad to see it (end).”
Fisher said he has several fond memories of the rivalry. He remembers one game when he was an assistant coach, only to see his team’s head coach get ejected. Suddenly, Fisher had to take over and run the show.
Another time, the two teams met in a sectional championship game. And the last few years meant a chance to coach against longtime friend Norm West, who coached the Rebels one last time on Wednesday. Another close friend of Fisher’s, Justin Whittenburg, coached Central on Wednesday.
“I was definitely going to be here,” Fisher said.
Delta a winner
Delta picked up a 6-0 win to punch its ticket to the sectional semifinals. Rob Fox led the way for the Eagles, pitching a complete-game shutout. Fox was able to pitch his way out of any jams.
Blackford stranded seven baserunners. Fox allowed five Blackford hits, walking two batters and striking out 10. The game featured a lightning delay in the top of the fifth inning, but that didn’t prevent Fox from maintaining his form.
Fox never threw a pitch in the game without a lead. Delta produced three unearned runs in the top of the first inning and maintained that advantage throughout. Tate Stone and Nick Maloney each had two singles to pace the Eagles offensively.
Blackford was led by Daniel Strickland, who had a single and a triple. Tryse Hendricks pitched a complete game for the Bruins.