Rece Wilson 1-hits St. James Academy to vault Andover Central into 5A semifinals

Charles Chaney
Butler County Times Gazette
Andover Central's Rece Wilson pitches in the Class 5A state quarterfinal game against St. James Academy on Thursday, May 27 at Wichita State's Eck Stadium.

WICHITA, Kansas—St. James Academy could have batted around for 14 innings and it’s not completely sure they would have been able score on Rece Wilson. 

The Andover Central junior was lights out in his first state tournament appearance as he threw a 1-hit gem in the first round of the Class 5A state baseball tournament, helping Andover Central to the 6-0 win. 

“All my pitchers were working,” Wilson said. “So, I just kept on working."

Wilson only needed 75 pitchers to mow through St. James Academy (9-15) and the one hit given up? The Thunder’s Corey Barnett beat out a throw from third base. He was quickly picked off for his transgressions of getting a hit on Wilson.

“He pitched an amazing game,” Andover Central Head Coach Grant Bacon said. “Even when he fell behind, he did not give in.”

The entire game, the defense stood tall, whether it was Easton Elliott going into left field to make a catch or picking off the runner with a nice tag by Bryce Naipohn, they backed up Wilson.

“The entire year Easton [Elliott] has been preaching ‘let’s get that one run for Rece,” Wilson said. “If you give me that one run, I’ll be able to capitalize.”

Andover Central (22-1) found Wilson that run quickly, too. Lou Blackman reached by an error, which let Elliott score from third for the early 1-0 lead. 

That would be the story of the afternoon for St. James Academy. When they couldn’t hit Wilson, they were committing timely errors in the outfield and routinely letting the Jaguars on base.

Cooper Tabor reached by an error in the fifth inning and Elliott doubled to score Tabor and they blew the game open from there. They would score five runs over the next two innings to control a 6-run lead.

“We gave them no gifts,” Bacon said. “That’s how you win in the state tournament.”

it would have been easy to claim nerves as the top seeded team and no real state experience on the roster. The Jaguars appeared to be ready for this one and made sure there was a chance St. James could have snuck up on them.

"Our dudes were locked in," Bacon said. "I don't there were any nerves."

Wilson went the distance, striking out three and allowing no walks and only the one hit, which came in the third inning from Corey Bennett. 

Tabor went 2-for-3 on the afternoon and Elliott went 2-for-4 with an RBI and three runs.

Central will now play either Topeka Seaman or Hays at 11 a.m. on Friday at Wichita State’s Eck Stadium. If they win that, they’ll play at 5:45 p.m. for a chance to win a state title.

”We really came out hot today,” Wilson said. “I love the intensity we came out with today and can’t wait to come back tomorrow and prove ourselves.”

Charles Chaney has been the Sports Editor for the Butler County Times-Gazette since Aug. 2019. You can reach him at cchaney@butlercountytimesgazette.com or on Twitter at @ChuckChaneyBCTG.