"With the new bats and everything that's something we try to teach our kids, to play small ball and our kids are buying into it a little bit. When you've got speed at the top of the lineup and they can steal bases and make teams have to prepare for those types of things, it's a plus for you — to take teams out of their comfort zone — and hopefully we can continue to do that," Central coach Wes Shiver said.
It didn't take long for the Lions to get going, as Spencer Lewis and Blake Reese started off the bottom of the first with a pair of infield singles and each stole a base. Lewis scored on an error on Reese's single and Reese scored as he stole third and the throw from the Lamar County catcher went into left field for the early 2-0 lead.
Central added to its lead in the second, as an error and another stolen base got Chaney Lambert in scoring position for Andrew Scoggins' RBI single and Scoggins was able to make it all the way to third as the right fielder misplayed the ball. Tucker Musick brought Scoggins home and then scored on Lewis' single — after he went first to third on Seth Brown's single.
Lamar County got to Central starting pitcher Zach George, who breezed through the first two innings, before yielding three runs on four hits in the third to cut the Lions' lead to 4-3. George then led off the home half with a triple and scored on an errant throw.
Central rounded out its scoring in the fifth, as Reese's leadoff single turned into a run after Wesley Long singled him home. Lamar County got a run back in the seventh, but ultimately fell short.
Following George on the mound was Will Sheffield, who went three innings without giving up a hit or a walk and struck out two before Lewis pitched in the seventh.
"I'm hoping [George and Sheffield] continue to mature as the rest of the summer progresses and continue to mature through our off-season workouts. The biggest thing is they are learning how to compete and that's what we need, a lot of innings from these guys in the summer," Shiver said. "We had talked about [Lewis closing] last year and he had some arm issues, some back issues. We want to use him sparingly, but he's got a good enough arm he could develop into a closer-type role."
The Lions have today off before playing Wayne County at 7 p.m. Saturday in the final day of pool play. A win would make Central 4-0 for the week and guarantee it a spot in Sunday's championship game.