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    Centennial senior Miguel Santos got the Spartans out of a tight spot during their 8-2 victory Thursday over Little Elm in Game 1 of the team’s Class 5A Region I area-round playoff series at Justin Northwest. COURTESY PHOTO/PAYTON GOODEN
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    Centennial’s baseball team swept past Little Elm in a best-of-three Class 5A Region I area-round playoff series. The Spartans will face Lake Dallas in the regional round this weekend. BURLESON STAR/RICKY MOORE

Spartans sweep past Little Elm to advance

JUSTIN - For the second consecutive time in the playoffs, Centennial junior pitcher Brayden Freeman was dazzling on the mound.

Staked to an early 2-0 lead, Freeman tossed a complete-game four-hitter as the Spartans defeated Little Elm, 3-1, Friday afternoon for a series-clinching win in the team’s best-of-three area-round

playoff series at Justin Northwest. It was Centennial’s second straight playoff sweep.

“I’ve preached all year that pitching and defense is going to carry you through the playoffs and these kids bought into that,” Centennial coach Brian Tickell said. “We got great pitching performances from (Jacob) Meador and (Miguel) Santos Thursday and what a job Freeman did today. I’m so proud of that young man, he’s worked extremely hard to be where he is today.”

The Spartans (25-10) will take on Lake Dallas in a best-of-three regional quarterfinal series at TCU’s Lupton Stadium. Game 1 will be at 7:30 p.m. Thursday. The second game of the series will be at

4:30 p.m. Friday and deciding third game, if needed, will follow 30 minutes after the end of Game 2.

The winner of the series will play the winner of the series between Lubbock Coronado (22-14) and Lubbock Monterey (23-10-1) in the regional semifinals.

It will be Centennial’s third trip to the quarterfinals. In 2017, the Spartans dropped a three-game series to Mansfield Legacy, 2-1, and were swept by West in 2012.

“Give credit to Little Elm, they are a great team, but we battled them every single inning and came out on top.” Tickell said “I’m so proud of our young men.”
Freeman struck out three, walked one and allowed one run.

After Centennial added a run in the bottom of the sixth on a Seth DeLaRosa run-scoring single, the Lobos (16-15-1) attempted a rally in the seventh.

Logan Kohler singled to open the first and moved to second on a ground out. With two out, Kohler scored on Ethan Winfrey’s single to center. Freeman halted the rally by getting Andres Armentero to pop up to end the game.

In the first, Miguel Santos singled with one out and moved to third on Gabe Irwin’s double. The Spartans went up 1-0 on Jacob Meador’s run-scoring fielder’s choice.

Centennial added another run in the second when DeLaRosa singled and eventually scored on Dawson Barnes sacrifice fly to left field.

Spartans survive scare in opener

With the bases loaded in the sixth inning, Centennial reliever Miguel Santos found himself in a tough spot with his team nursing a 4-2 lead Thursday night.

The senior didn’t flinch, striking out the first batter he faced and inducing a ground out to quell the threat.

The feat was made even more amazing considering it was Santos first mound appearance of the season.

“About three weeks ago, he said he wanted to pitch,” Tickell said. “To come in and do what he did tonight was pretty impressive.”

The Spartans broke the game open in the top of the seventh, scoring four runs to put things out of reach as they defeated Little Elm, 8-2, in Game 1 of the series.

Centennial starting pitcher Jacob Meador allowed two runs on three hits in 5.1 innings. The senior struck out 13 and walked four.

Lead off hitter Dawson Barnes had a big night for the Spartans. Barnes tripled, walked twice and scored three runs. The Spartans picked up a two-run double from Gabe Irwin and run-scoring doubles by Meador and Zavier Fuller. Santos also had an RBI in the win.

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