Central sets wins mark, earns share of Big 12 title
BLOOMINGTON — With every game, the Champaign Central baseball team keeps making history. Saturday’s 2-1, 5-4 sweep of Bloomington improved the Maroons’ record to 32-1, breaking the school record for wins that the 2006 team set at 30. Central also clinched a share of the Big 12 title, improving to 9-1 with two games remaining, winning the conference for the first time since that 2006 squad claimed the title.
John Staab, in his 13th year as the Maroons’ coach, hasn’t yet found the words to describe the remarkable run his team is enjoying.
“It’s still not settling in,” he said. “It’s just been an incredible year.”
The Maroons won the opener against the Raiders, who entered the day tied for first place in the Big 12, when center fielder Alec Barger threw out the potential tying run at the plate after a base hit to end the game.
“We just continue to find ways to win,” Staab said.
Ace Phillip Swartz (8-0) tossed a complete-game five-hitter, striking out nine in the 2-1 win in the opener. Luke Beesley and Joe Aeilts each drove in a run in the third inning to lift the Maroons. Connor Mapes had three hits and scored a run.
In the nightcap, Barger, who pitched a scoreless seventh inning to earn the save, had three hits and an RBI. Aeilts drove in a pair for the Maroons, whose Tanner Gordon (3-0) pitched four innings of relief to pick up the win.
“They’re excited about it, and they should be. They’ve put in a lot of work,” Staab said of his record-setting club. “It’s a talented group, but it’s a confident group, and they haven’t changed what they do from game to game. It’s just a testament to them. They’ve been great all year, and it’s been a fun group to coach.”