Hungry Maroons blast past Braves

Hungry Maroons blast past Braves

MAHOMET — The Champaign Central baseball coaches didn't have to bring up last spring's regional championship loss when the Maroons opened postseason play Wednesday.

Last year's 3-2 loss to Mt. Zion — a Braves' walk-off — wasn't something they had easily forgotten.

Was it the main influence heading into the Class 3A regional semifinal rematch against the Braves? Not in itself, but Central wasn't exactly lacking for motivation. Motivation the Maroons tapped into for a 15-1 victory in five innings that sent them to a fifth straight regional championship game.

"A couple people mentioned it here and there," Central's Chris Wurl said. "A couple guys were bringing it up like, 'Hey, we need to get these guys back.' I think it rubbed off on most of the team. We just came out prepared."

"We just didn't want that to happen again this year," Central's Joel Sarver added. "We're wanting to go far this season. ... We've been thinking about how we were feeling after that game. We were all hurt. We didn't play that well during that game. It's good to just come back and play them again first round and do what we normally do. That felt great."

Central (27-9) will play Charleston at 11 a.m. Saturday for the regional title. The Trojans beat host Mahomet-Seymour 7-1 in Wednesday's second semifinal.

"It's kind of crazy we've drawn Mt. Zion now four years in a row," Central coach John Staab said. "Matt Smith does a great job over there. ... We knew we had our hands full (Wednesday). We were just lucky things went our way. Obviously, we could play 10 times and never have a score like that probably.

"We're just fortunate to move on in the postseason. Win and move on is what it's all about. ... The Apollo's a good baseball conference. We'll have to be ready to go (against Charleston)."

Central batted around — in consecutive innings — in its run-shortened victory against Mt. Zion. Cole Jones got the Maroons going in the third with a leadoff solo home run, and Wurl had a pair of run-scoring doubles, clearing the bases with the second.