Chargers’ season ends in narrow loss

Published 1:54 pm Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Central High School’s varsity baseball team suffered a disappointing 4-3 home loss to Stonewall Jackson High School in the Region 1A East tournament quarterfinals Monday, but the Chargers were nonetheless successful in adding a chapter of overall success to the program’s rich history.

Central finished the season with an overall record of 17-5.

A crowd populated the hillside next to the home field of the second-seeded Chargers on Monday, including supporters of both teams competing.

Central fans got excited when the Chargers recovered from a 2-0 deficit against the No. 7 Raiders to tie the game.

In the bottom of the fifth inning, Central took the lead.

Junior L.J. Watson singled, and then junior Nate Nowlin doubled. A passed ball allowed Watson to score the go-ahead run.

Stonewall Jackson recovered, however, and held a 4-3 lead going into the bottom of the seventh.

The Chargers were unable to respond, bringing their season to an end.

They had advanced to play the Raiders after winning their Conference 42 tournament semifinal game Friday against visiting Charles City High School.

Central held the top seed in the tourney and played like it, dominating an over-matched fourth-seeded Panthers team on the way to a 30-0 win in five innings.

Chargers Head Coach Michael Atkins said in terms of blowout victories through Central’s history, this one rates “probably pretty high.”

But he noted that it was an important game for his team to win because it was a conference semifinal game.

“We needed obviously (to) win the game to get into the regional tournament which is our goal, and so we accomplished that tonight,” he said Friday. “That was the main thing.”

A highlight among Central’s offensive onslaught was a home run by freshman Austin Hall, who was just recently called up from the junior varsity team.

Junior Christian Hall pitched the first two innings of the game to earn the win on the mound.

Atkins and the Chargers are looking to restore the Central varsity baseball program to its glory days from the 1990s and 1980s.

The 1992 Chargers were the last Central varsity baseball state championship team. They were also regional champions and finished their season with a 24-3 overall record.

Central’s 1994 varsity baseball team was its last to be in a regional title game and get into the state tournament. It won the regional title and went 23-5 overall.