• Centennial senior Adrian Gracia, shown in action earlier this season, collected two hits and a pair of RBIs Friday night in the Spartans District 9-5A win over Burleson. BURLESON STAR/RICKY MOORE

First-inning outburst hurls Spartans past Elks

Centennial did not waste any time getting on the scoreboard Friday night against their crosstown rival Burleson. The Spartans scored seven first-inning runs which led to an 8-5 District 9-5A victory over the Elks.

Centennial (12-7, 3-1) racked up seven straight hits in the first inning, four of them going for extra bases, which jumpstarted them to the early lead.

A few days after voicing disappointment in his team’s approach at the plate, Spartans’ coach Brad Hart said he was happy with how his team made adjustments.

“I think there was a huge change this game,” Hart said. I think our guys really went to work these last few days and tried to get back to that good approach. We had that good approach in the first inning and really squared some balls up there.”

Adrian Gracia and Hunter Prescher led the Spartans at the plate, each going 2-4 with 2 RBI a piece. Payton Strambler, Beau Staton, and Blake Birdwell all knocked in a run in the Spartans first inning explosion.

After being touched up for seven runs in a third of an inning, Burleson’s starting pitcher Kayden Cassidy was replaced by Hayden Alexander.

Alexander came in and kept the Elks in the game, going five innings in relief allowing just one run while recording five strikeouts.

Although the Elks (9-10, 1-3) were only able to scratch out two hits in the game, they kept things alive by drawing nine walks. A four-run fifth inning made things interesting late, but the Elks were unable to overcome the steep deficit.

Burleson coach Daniel Bruce said their goal was to just scratch out one run an inning in order to make things manageable.

“I told them after the game I was super proud of them for staying in it and making a game of it,” Bruce said. “Hayden Alexander coming in, that’s just something we expect out of him now. I couldn’t ask anything more from him; he kept us right there in the game.”

Christian Hallack had both of the Elks’ hits on the night, going 2-3 with a walk.

Payton Strambler was the winning pitcher for the Spartans. He went 4.2 innings, allowing five runs on one hit. Strambler punched out five and walked seven.

Ethan Quintanilla finished the game for Centennial, pitching 2.1 innings in relief. He gave up no runs on one hit while striking out six and walking two.

Hart said he feels fortunate to get a win in district play no matter how it looks.

“Even after going up 7-0 you knew they were going to make a game out of it,” Hart said. “Burleson’s a tough, scrappy bunch. In this district, if you can just find a way to win you’ll take it.”

Burleson Star

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