Bowling Green ends fine season in playoffs

By JOHNNIE DANIEL,

One of the most successful baseball seasons in Bowling Green School's history ended last week when the Bucs were eliminated from the playoffs by defending State Champion Central Private School.

In a best-of-three series, Bowling Green pushed the Rebels to the limit before dropping the series finale 1-0. Coach Justin Garcia's Buccaneers finished with a 21-9 record. Central Private came to Franklinton last Tuesday and captured Game 1 of the series 13-7. The Bucs traveled to Baker, Louisiana last Friday and answered with a 12-5 win over the Rebels to even the series at 1-1. Both teams only mustered two hits each in Game 3 with Central Private able to push across the lone run of the contest which proved to be enough for the series win. After dropping Game 1, Cam Bell doubled, Cade Knight singled and Casey Burge walked to start Game 2 for the Bucs. After Sammy Phelps entered as a courtesy runner for Burge, Ben Hicks lined a single to left that scored Bell and Knight.

A one-out walk to Denzel Evans loaded the bases for Rece Dillon who singled to center to drive in Phelps. An infield groundout from Hunter Wilkinson scored Hicks as the Bucs took an early 4-0 lead after one inning. After a scoreless second, Wagner singled ahead of a walk to Evans to start the third. Dillon reached on an error that allowed Wagner to score. Wilkinson followed with a single to left that scored Dillon. Wilkinson moved up 90 feet before Bell lined an RBI single to center to score Wilkinson and put the Bucs ahead 7-0 after 2 ½ innings. After the Bucs retired the first two batters of the home half of the third, the Rebels scored five runs to make it a 7-5 game. Neither team scored again until the top of the sixth. Wilkinson drew a one-out walk for the Bucs, pinch-hitter Mitchell Lott singled to right and Bell walked to load the bases. Phelps entered as a courtesy runner for Lott and a walk to Knight forced in Wilkinson. Burge followed with a Grand Slam to give the Bucs a 12-5 lead and ultimately force Game 3 between the two teams 30 minutes later. Burge (4 RBI and 2 runs scored) and Bell (1 RBI and 2 runs scored) each had two hits for the Bucs. Hicks (2 RBI and 1 run scored), Wilkinson (2 RBI and 2 runs scored), Knight (1 RBI and 2 runs scored), Wagner (1 run scored), Dillon (1 RBI and 1 run scored) and Lott each had one hit in the game. Burge pitched 6 innings giving up 8 hits and 5 runs while striking out 5. Dillon closed the game by facing 3 batters and striking out 1.

In Friday's Game 3, Central Private scored a single run in the bottom of the fourth in a pitchers' duel that the Rebels claimed 1-0. In the final game of the season for Bowling Green, Burge and Wilkinson each had hits for the Bucs. Timmy Ruffino pitched 3 scoreless innings while walking 3 and striking out 2. Hicks came on in relief and gave up 2 hits, 1 run while striking out 3 and walking 1.

In Tuesday's Game 1, Burge led with 2 home runs and a single, 4 RBI and 2 runs scored. Knight (2 runs scored) and Wilkinson each had 2 hits while Bell (1 RBI), Dillon (1 run scored) and Lott (1 run scored) had 1 hit in the game.

The three-game series was the last meeting between the two longtime rivals as Central Private moves to the Louisiana High School Athletic Association (LHSAA) beginning in the 2019-2020 season. Bowling Green and CPS began competing against each other in the early 1970s.