The Centennials made quick work of the Nationals, disposing of their inter-city rivals in an hour and 15 minutes with a 12-1 victory in four innings.
Centennials pitcher Rylan Charles threw three perfect innings on the mound and was also a perfect 3-for-3 at the plate with four RBI to lead his team.
“That was amazing. Rylan did a great job on throwing strikes and getting after everybody,” Centennial’s manager Brent Husted said. “That’s all we want our little guys to do, pound the strike zone and if they hit it, make the plays. We were aggressive with the bat and stayed off a lot of those high pitches.”
Charles helped break open a close game during an eight-run rally in the third. He stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded and ripped a bases-clearing triple to right field, making it 10-0 game. He scored on a wild pitch to push the gap to 11-0.
The Centennials went into the top of the third leading by a slim 3-0 margin. Charles drove in Christian Carlson in the first as both players had singles.
In the second inning, a trio of Nationals errors led to a pair of unearned runs.
But in the third, the Nationals looked simply outmatched. Charles led off the third with an infield single but was thrown out at second on an Alex Padilla fielder’s choice. Seven of the next eight Centennial hitters reached base safely.
After the fielder’s choice, J.T. Skiver crushed a shot to right field that rolled all the way to the fence for an RBI double. After the second out of the inning was recorded, Nationals starting pitcher Brendan Dominici started to run out of gas.
Jacob Williamson lined a single up the middle, plating Skiver. A walk, hit batsman and a walk forced in a run and ended Dominici’s outing after 2 2-3 innings on the bump.
Logan Brown came on in relief and walked the first batter he saw to bring in another run. Then Charles smoked the first pitch he saw for a three-run triple.
Charles was nearly untouchable on the mound. He struck out the side in the first and third innings, finishing with seven K’s out of the nine outs he recorded before handing the ball over to Casey Burfield in the bottom of the fourth.
“We just made a few errors. The opposing pitcher, we haven’t seen anyone throw that hard all year,” Nationals manager Mike Harms said. “We were just kind of overmatched by the pitching. The kids had fun and battled.”
The Centennials had picked up another run thanks to an error in the top half of the fourth frame, increasing the gap to 12-0.
Burfield appeared to be well on his way to combining on a perfect game with Charles after striking out the first batter he faced. He then walked the next batter before recording a second strikeout.
However, with the no-hitter still intact, Nationals clean-up hitter Lucas Humes spoiled the no-hit bid, blasting a shot down the left-field line that bounced twice and hit the fence, breaking up the no-hitter and shutout with an RBI double.
Burfield struck out the next batter to end the game via the 10-run mercy rule.
While Sparks fans enjoyed watching the two teams play head-to-head, most were hoping it would happen later than the first day of the tournament.
“I don’t think the two Sparks teams should be matched up right off the bat,” Harms said. “We should be in different brackets, so one of us doesn’t have a loss right off the bat.”
Sparks Centennial plays again today in a winners’ bracket matchup with Carson Valley at 8 p.m. The Nationals are off until Friday and do not know their opponent for the 5:30 p.m. game.
•In the 11-year-olds All-Star tournament, once again a Sparks team was going to be forced into the losers’ bracket after its opening game. And once again it was the Sparks Nationals.
Sparks Centennial advanced to the winners’ bracket for a meeting today with North Valleys at 5:30 p.m. by downing Sparks National, 20-7, Wednesday in the late game.
The Centennials allowed the Nationals to knot the score at 7-7 with five runs in the bottom of the fourth. But a 13-run fifth inning accounted for the final margin. The Centennials ended the game with a three-pitch bottom of the fifth.
Further details were unavailable by press time.
Sparks National will play again Friday at 8 p.m.