Butler County Times Gazette
  • Andover Central wins legion championship

  • Despite battling pouring rain that refused to cease for the majority of the game, Andover Central was able to keep its composure and grind out a 5-2 win over Winfield to claim the Single-A Legion zone championship in Augusta.
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  • Despite battling pouring rain that refused to cease for the majority of the game, Andover Central was able to keep its composure and grind out a 5-2 win over Winfield to claim the Single-A Legion zone championship in Augusta.
    The Jaguars had to win two games (wins over Winfield and Ark City) in the tournament to make it to this point, but because the ball became so hard to control because of the elements, it may have been the toughest contest yet in the tournament.
    "It was (difficult), you could tell for both teams," said Andover Central legion coach Grant Bacon. "Credit Andrew Rafferty on the mound, he pitched really well. Our guys stayed focused and made plays for him. When you get to this point of the tournament, you want to make sure you have pitching. For this game obviously you want to win, but the if-needed game you want to be ready be he got six good innings, I'm really proud of him."
    Rafferty picked up the win for the Jaguars, pitching six innings and only allowing two runs. He said that he couldn't be more proud of what his team has accomplished, especially because the championship earns Andover Central a state tournament berth.
    "Well, we've played really well this season," Rafferty said. "We've struggled through a little adversity, but we made it."
    Andover Central's offense gave Rafferty all the run support he would need in the top of the first inning, as the Jaguars tacked on four runs, due to being patient and working the count in their favor.
    "Going back to the first inning, well, we got runners on base and capitalized with counts in our favor," Bacon said. "With 1-0, 2-0, and 3-1 (counts), you have to be patient and look for your pitch and take advantage of it, I thought we did that. I thought we ran the bases early on as well."
    Winfield was able to get one back in the bottom of the first however, hitting a sacrifice fly near right field to trim the deficit to 4-1.
    The score didn't change until the bottom of the third inning, when Winfield hit an RBI double to reduce the gap to only two runs at 4-2.
    Andover Central had a bit of a rally with one out in the top of the fourth inning as Trevor Gorges slapped down a single, and Jake Leuallen walked. After Travis M'Gary popped out, the runners advanced to second and third on a wild pitch. Unfortunately the Jaguars could not capitalize with runners in scoring position as Dakota Rodd grounded out to end the frame.
    But it didn't matter. Rafferty was in control in the bottom half of the fourth, striking out a batter and inducing a come-backer to the mound to end the inning.
    Page 2 of 2 - In the bottom of the sixth inning, however, Winfield had hope. After striking out the leadoff man and then getting a batter to ground out to himself, Rafferty allowed a single and a walk. The runners advanced to second and third with a wild pitch, bringing the tying run to the plate. Despite pressure however, Rafferty got Winfield to ground out to Gorges to end the threat.
    At this point, Andover Central hadn't scored since the first inning, thus putting pressure on the defense to hold the lead in place.
    "We kinda went into cruise control mode," Bacon said. "Their kid was keeping us off-balance with his little knuckleball, but it was a good game."
    But that all changed in the top of the seventh inning. Joe Davidson reached on an error, then made it to second. Jack Griffith was hit by a pitch, and Austin Ray drove in Davidson with an RBI single to make it a 5-2 game, but Griffith was thrown at at third.
    "Getting that run was really big, and it started with our 9-hole getting on base, that was the key to that inning," Bacon said.
    The Jaguars had a three-run leading heading into the final frame of the game, and Rodd relieved Rafferty on the mound to close it out. Rodd came out of the gates a little wild, but battled back down from a 3-0 count to strike out the leadoff Winfield batter.
    "Rodd has got good stuff when he doesn't overthrow," Bacon said. "He was overthrowing early on, but he settled down and kept his cool, he didn't get ahead of himself, so that was good to see."
    Rodd had to settle down again after allowing a single and a walk, but he did just that, as he induced back-to-back groundouts to finish it for Andover Central.
    Concluding the game, the Jaguar players were awarded their coveted tournament trophy, but not before they went for a slide on the diamond in celebration, seeming to relish what some in the stands called "football weather." While being interviewed, a few players surprised Bacon by giving him the infamous Gatorade bath.
    "I haven't had one of those for awhile on the legion team. It's always good to get that, regardless. It's always fun. It's fun for the kids. (Getting a Gatorade bath) means you've won a tournament. It's fun for the guys, I won't enjoy riding home with wet pants, but it's fun for the guys."
     
     

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