Bryan Mathews picked up where he left off.
The Hagerstown senior homered in his first two at-bats Monday, making it three long balls in three consecutive at-bats after his walk-off home run helped the Tigers win last Thursday.
And appropriately, one final throw by the multi-purpose star sealed the win for Hagerstown.
Mathews went 3-for-4 with six RBIs, scored three runs and struck out five on the mound, leading Hagerstown to a 15-3 victory over Centerville in Monday’s IHSAA Class 2A Sectional 41 semifinal.
“Mathews is a gamer,” Hagerstown coach Brad Catey said. “I’ve said it ever since he was a freshman, you come up in a big game, Bryan’s going to come through. They get him riled up, the more the other team gets on him, the better he gets. And that’s just a great competitor.”
After moving to catcher in the final inning, Mathews picked off Centerville’s Devin Christian at first base for the last out, punching Hagerstown’s ticket to a second straight sectional final and third in four years.
Knightstown defeated Northeastern 7-3 in the morning semifinal. The final was suspended due to rain and will resume in the bottom of the third inning today at 5 p.m.
Sam Reagan walked and Mathews blasted a 1-0 pitch into the parking lot in the first inning of the semifinal to make it 2-0 Hagerstown, and after the Bulldogs tied it in the bottom of the frame, Mathews blasted a grand slam to give the Tigers the lead.
Reagan hit a two-run home run in the fifth and Mathews just missed a third long ball, hitting a line drive off the top of the wall for a double.
“Bryan is an incredible, incredible hitter — I don’t know how you pitch to him, because we’ve tried everything,” Centerville coach Tracey Crull said. “I’m very, very happy for him. I’m especially happy that he’s graduating.”
Justyn North singled and scored in the fourth inning to get Centerville within 6-3, but the Tigers sent 12 batters to the plate in the top of the fifth, scoring eight runs and putting the mercy rule in effect. Tyler Funkhouser struck out two in the final inning.
Eli Callahan pitched three innings for the Bulldogs, giving up six runs on six hits, while North pitched the final two frames.
Sam Reagan, Funkhouser, Dylan Woolard, Jonah McKissick and Kyle Beeson all had two hits, while Garrett Wilson singled and Eli Reagan had a bunt single and two sacrifices.
“We’ve been seeing a lot of curve ball guys and we’re a good fastball hitting team, so when North came in, a guy that’s got a pretty good fastball, I knew we had a chance to put some runs up there,” Catey said. “Bottom of the lineup came through big today, they were on base all the time, I think (Eli) Reagan, I made him bunt three times and he got them down all three, … and that’s big.”
McKissick and Funkhouser both doubled, while Wilson and Beeson each had two RBIs.
John Cheatwood had two hits for Centerville, while North, Sam Shaw, Tyler Weaver and Andrew Walter each had one.
It was the final game for Centerville seniors Callahan, Weaver and Cody Weiss — who threw out a runner at the plate from right field.
The Bulldogs finish the season 13-12, having won five in a row before Monday’s loss.
“I’m just really proud of our kids,” Crull said. “They improved so much towards the end of the season and got on a run and really, really legitimately had a shot at this sectional and just ran into a team today that just flat could hit the cover off the ball.”