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Central’s Wes Riddell fires a pitch in Thursday’s win over Yamhill-Carlton.
March 19, 2013
INDEPENDENCE -- To start the 2012 season, the Central High School baseball team hadn't played a game at this point in the year because of typical rainy Oregon weather.
When the Panthers did hit the field, it was a rocky start -- they won just one of their first seven contests.
Maybe that's what makes this season's 4-0 start so special.
"Well, we've played our first two scheduled games, so that's already been a big difference," Central senior David Powell said with a smile after Thursday's 8-2 win over Yamhill-Carlton.
All joking aside, the Panthers aren't just happy they're playing. They're winning -- and Central is doing it big.
Central opened the 2013 campaign with a 12-2 throttling of Banks, followed that up with Thursday's 15-hit barrage, and then picked up a 14-4 victory over Tillamook Friday, when the Panthers totaled a whopping 20 hits.
Monday, Central added one more, topping Scappoose 10-1 behind a 10-strikeout performance by Branden Cutsforth, who gave up just two hits on the mound.
Clearly, seeing the ball hasn't been a problem.
"We didn't have the offensive start that we've had this year," Central second-year coach Zach Miller said in comparison to 2012. "I think (hitters) one through nine, they're taking good swings and they're making adjustments early."
Thursday, leadoff hitter Wes Riddell led the way with a 3-for-4 performance with a double and an RBI, while Philomath transfer Josh Simons was a perfect 3-for-3 with two RBI. Tanner Tallan also added two hits, both singles.
On the mound, Powell picked up his first win of the season with an eight-strikeout, three-hit performance, with Riddell coming on in relief in the sixth inning.
"We're playing good baseball right now and we're hitting the ball," Powell said.
The senior -- who had minor knee surgery during basketball season -- said he feels "faster and quicker" since being cleared to play without a knee brace this season. He's also one of seven seniors that want to do something that hasn't been done since their class arrived: make the state playoffs.
Central -- which hasn't made the playoffs since 2006, which was before the move to six classifications -- fell in the Class 4A play-in game a year ago.
"It's early, but we have high goals," Powell said. "We haven't been to the playoffs ever since I've been here, so we just want to get past the play-in game and see how far we can go."
In Friday's win over Tillamook, Will Gapasin tallied the victory on the mound and David Vidal (3-for-5 with two RBI), Kyler Fleming (3-for-4 with an RBI) and Kelton Chapman (2-for-2 with an RBI) led the charge on offense.
Against Banks, Cutsforth pitched a gem for his first win, striking out 10 in six innings and allowing just one hit. Fleming went 2-for-3 with two doubles and two RBI to lead Central at the plate.
That was just the first 10-strikeout performance of the season for Cutsforth, who added 10 more Ks and allowed just two hits in Monday's victory at Scappoose. Cutsforth also led the Panthers at the plate Monday, going 3-for-4 with two RBI and Joe Leon added two hits and an RBI in the nonleague contest.
Central at Yamhill-Carlton
When: Friday, 4:30 p.m.
Central vs. Dallas
When: Monday, noon.
Where: Western Oregon University.
Central vs. Blanchet Catholic
When: Tuesday, noon.
Where: Stayton High School.