Chelsea clinches 3rd straight area championship

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor

CHELSEA – A three-run opening inning was more than enough cushion for Connor Ball on the mound, as the Chelsea Hornets clinched their third consecutive area championship on Tuesday night, April 13.

Ball continued his perfect stretch of area games by striking out 11 batters in six innings of shutout work to help the Hornets take down rival Briarwood 5-0.

Chelsea also got hits from the first four in the batting order to help provide the cushion.

It started in the opening inning when the first two batters reached base safely thanks to Adam Reaves being hit by a pitch and an error allowing Chris McNeill to reach safely.

That brought Reid Gongwer to the plate, who kick started the scoring with an RBI single on a line drive to the left side of the infield that allowed Reaves to score after he advanced to third on a wild pitch earlier in the at bat.

Jackson Webster then stepped to the plate and drove home two more runs on a line drive to center field for a two-RBI single.

Briarwood’s best opportunity came in the top of the third when the Lions loaded the bases with two outs looking to carve into the deficit.

But a ground out at second base ended the threat and the inning with Chelsea still in front 3-0.

After a quiet stretch, the Hornets added some insurance in the bottom of the fifth after the first two batters reached base safely again.

This time, Kaden Weldon reached on an error and Reaves on a single to put two aboard with no outs.

That set the stage for McNeill, who drove a ball to center field for an RBI single. Gongwer followed with a ground out that allowed Reaves to score for a 5-0 advantage.

After striking out the side in the top of the fifth, Ball came back out in the sixth and struck out the first two batters before finishing off his night with a foul-tip out following a walk.

Parker Szush then came in and his confidence was apparent from the start with a five-run cushion.

He got two quick outs before giving up a single, but closed the game out with a strikeout, before standing and posing for his teammates who sprinted out of the dugout for a dogpile to celebrate the team’s area championship.

Chelsea was led by Gongwer with two RBIs and one hit in the win, while McNeill and Webster both added one hit and one RBI. Reaves and Christian Kallaher each had one hit as well.

Ball finished the night with 11 strikeouts and three walks in six innings to pick up the win on the mound. He gave up just two hits, while Szush struck out two of the four batters he faced to close out the win.

Briarwood was led by Luke Sibley, Cal Higdon and Cameron Ray with one hit each.