Jake Rogers faced an uncomfortable situation Wednesday with the bases loaded and one out in the top of the seventh inning with his team clinging to a one-run lead.
He didn’t let it show.
Rogers got a strikeout, then induced a grounder back to the mound to end the game and preserve a 5-4 home victory over Shadow Ridge in the Division I Sunset Region baseball tournament.
“It was a very intense situation, but I’ve got confidence in my fielders,” Rogers said. “I know they’re going to make plays behind me. I’ve just got to throw the ball down the plate and they’re going to get me out of it.”
Centennial (25-9) plays Cimarron-Memorial (14-17) in the winners’ bracket final at 7 p.m. today at Centennial. The winner gets a day off and advances to Saturday’s championship. Shadow Ridge (19-13) faces Bishop Gorman (28-5) in an elimination game at 1 p.m. today, also at Centennial.
Defense ultimately was the difference Wednesday. Shadow Ridge committed seven errors — a combined six by three shortstops — leading to five unearned runs for Centennial.
“They did (make errors), but they were actually still in the game,” Centennial coach Charlie Cerrone said. “They did a great job of battling and minimizing what we were capitalizing on. They’re a good program. They swing it really well.”
The Bulldogs took a 5-2 lead into the seventh, but the Mustangs chased Centennial starter Kyle Horton with consecutive singles to start the inning. Rogers relieved and gave up an infield single to Justin Lee to load the bases.
Isaiah Blaylock hit a sacrifice fly to score one run, and Rogers walked Quinn Ayers to reload the bases. Chris Opolka hit an infield single to make it 5-4 and move the tying run to third.
But Rogers struck out Bryson Barnes, then got Koby Millner to ground back to the mound to end it.
Opolka started for Shadow Ridge and pitched well, but his defense betrayed him. Tied 1-1 in the fourth, Shadow Ridge made three errors to load the bases with one out. Opolka nearly got out of the jam, getting Hayden Grant on a shallow fly to center. But No. 9 hitter Bryce Rheault rolled a single up the middle to score two runs and give the Bulldogs the lead for good.
“He was just about out of it, and we came through luckily with the two-out hit,” Cerrone said. “That was a big deal.”
Rheault was 2-for-3 for Centennial, which had just five hits.
Opolka went 3-for-4 with a double, a run and an RBI for Shadow Ridge. Kyle Gaura and Trevin Reynolds each added two hits for the Mustangs.
Cimarron-Memorial 7, Palo Verde 0 — At Palo Verde, Noah Parker tossed a five-hitter with five strikeouts to lead the Spartans by the Panthers in the other winners’ bracket semifinal.
Trevor Doyle was 2-for-4 with a double and two RBIs, and Alexander Marco went 2-for-4 with two runs for Cimarron. Justin Cuddeback was 2-for-3 for the Spartans.
Blake Porter was 1-for-2 with a double for Palo Verde (18-14), which will meet Bonanza (18-13) in an elimination game at 4 p.m. Thursday at Centennial.
Bonanza 13, Arbor View 12 — At Bonanza, Jay DeSoto went 2-for-4 with two doubles, two runs and three RBIs as the Bengals stormed back from a 9-0 third-inning deficit to edge the Aggies in an elimination game.
Chris Dunn was 2-for-4 with a triple, a double and two RBIs for Bonanza, which scored seven runs in the bottom of the third and erased an 11-7 deficit with a six-run fifth inning.
Byron Naftzger, Levi Klump, Eric Schultz and Torren Brozovich each added two hits for Bonanza.
Nick Quintana was 2-for-4 with two home runs and five RBIs for Arbor View (16-16). Brady Borden was 2-for-5 with a homer and two RBIs, and Talon LeBaron went 3-for-3 with an RBI for the Aggies.
Bishop Gorman 4, Desert Oasis 2 — At Gorman, Brian Coffey and Alex Tisminesky combined on a six-hitter as the Gaels held off the Diamondbacks in an elimination game.
Beau Capanna had two hits for Gorman, which took a 2-0 lead in the fourth inning and extended it to 4-1 in the fifth.
Cole Schaefer and Isaiah Raiano each drove in a run for Desert Oasis (19-13), which had the potential tying runs on base in the seventh inning.