Central Catholic High School's Ryan Miller attempts to turn a double play while teammate Grant Stansbury looks on during game 1 of the Eagles' Division IV series with Covenant Christian Academy in Amelia Wednesday. Central Catholic was eliminated from the postseason after falling in game 3 Thursday, 9-5. (The Daily Review/Zachary Fitzgerald)
CCA tops CCHS to win Division IV Regional round baseball series, 2-1
No. 9 Covenant Christian used a three-run fifth to take the lead and added another three runs in the top of the seventh to take control for an eventual 9-5 win and Division IV baseball regional round series victory against No. 8 Central Catholic in a decisive third game Thursday.
Trailing 4-3 after four innings, Covenant Christian scored three runs in the top of the fifth on Trenton Holloway’s three-run home run for a 6-3 advantage.
The Lions added three more runs in the top of the seventh — one on an error at second base and another two on Caleb Wilson’s single.
Central Catholic scored a run in the bottom of the seventh on Luke Barbier’s double to right field but could get no closer.
Covenant Christian, who trailed 1-0 in the series after losing the opener, 2-0, won Wednesday’s second game, 5-1, to force a winner-take-all game Thursday.
The Lions now will advance to the quarterfinals where they will meet the winner of the series between No. 1 St. John and No. 16 St. Edmund. The St. John-St. Edmund series began Thursday, with St. John taking an 8-0 win in game 1.
Meanwhile, Central Catholic (20-12) will end its season short of the state tournament for the first time since 2011. Despite fielding a young team with 16 of 23 players either freshmen or sophomores, the Eagles still finished the year with 20 wins.
Early on Thursday, Central Catholic scored a run in the bottom of the first on Thomas Mire’s RBI-single and added two more runs in the second for a 3-0 lead.
Central Catholic pitcher Bryce Grizzaffi, who retired the first six Covenant Christian batters he faced, hit a batter to lead off the top of the third inning before following with consecutive strikeouts.
However, Austin Champagne and Cameron Olivier then followed with back-to-back RBI doubles to cut Central Catholic’s lead to 3-2.
The Lions scored another run in the top of the fourth on a groundout by Caleb Bergeron to tie the game at 3.
Central Catholic countered in the bottom of the fourth on Grizzaffi’s solo home run for a 4-3 advantage.
But after that, for the most part, Covenant Christian dominated scoring six of the game’s next seven runs.
Bergeron earned the win in relief. In 5.3 innings, he surrendered two runs (two earned) on six hits with one walk and one strikeout.
Olivier started the game, and in 1.2 innings, he surrendered three runs (two earned) on two hits with three walks.
Grizzaffi suffered the loss. In 4.1 innings, he surrendered six runs (five earned) on four hits with two walks, two hit batters and nine strikeouts.
Offensively, Barbier and Grizzaffi led the Eagles. Barbier was 3-for-4 with a double, an RBI and a run, while Grizzaffi was 1-for-2 with a home run, an RBI and two runs. Other top Central Catholic offensive contributors were: Mire, 1-for-4 with an RBI, and Tyler Longman and Brooks Thomas, an RBI apiece.
Champagne and Holloway led Covenant Christian. Champagne was 2-for-4 with two doubles, an RBI and two runs, while Holloway was 1-for-3 with a home run, three RBIs and two runs. Other top Covenant Christian offensive contributors were: Olivier, 1-for-3 with a double, an RBI and a run; Wilson, 1-for-3, two RBIs; and Bergeron, an RBI.