Skyler Bratcher

Skyler Bratcher led the Raiders at the plate through both of their Grundy County tournament games Friday, finishing with two against South Pittsburg and three against Community.

Central High School baseball returned to Coffee County Tuesday evening, March 12, for its home opener against district foe Columbia Central. The Red Raiders took control early before a late-game rally cost them in a 6-3 loss to the Lions. 

"You've gotta be able to put it behind you, that's a tough one," Coach David Martin said. "We had the lead in the late innings and we kind of let it slip away."

It was a much more productive night for the Raiders at the plate than Monday night's game at Columbia. The Raiders finished with six hits, including two each from Skyler Bratcher and Griffin Meeker. Bratcher also added three RBIs in the early innings to put the Raiders ahead. 

"It's a little bit disappointing, we had them early and we're a lot better team, we've worked a lot harder," Bratcher said. "We've just got to work on some things and hopefully we'll execute next time. We will execute."

Columbia took an early lead in the first after a CHS error sent Lion Bryce Symlar home, making it a 1-0 game.

The Raiders responded later in the same inning. After Hayden Skipper got on base off a Columbia error and Meeker took his base after getting hit at bat, Bratcher bashed a hard grounder to center field to send Skipper home for the tying run. 

Bratcher added another pair of RBIs later in the bottom of the second. With the bases loaded and two outs, Bratcher hit a line drive to right field, setting up scoring runs from Kael McCall and Gage Edwards in the process. 

The Raiders held their 3-1 lead through the top of the fourth, when Symlar added another run for Columbia on a sacrifice fly. 

Later in the sixth, the Lions started off by scoring the tying run at 3-3 following a pair of back-to-back doubles. Later in the same inning, the Lions had the bases loaded following a walk and a batter being hit by a pitch. On the next at-bat, Columbia scored the go-ahead run. The Lions added another two right after, following another single and CHS error.

The Raiders were unable to find additional runs through the game's remainder. 

"We're a young team and we need to experience stuff like this. It's the only way to overcome it," Martin said. "We've gotta learn how to overcome when something like that happens."

On the mound, Harley Hinshaw pitched the first three innings, earned five strikeouts and allowed one run. Meeker came in for two and two-thirds innings, striking out two and surrendering four runs. He was replaced by Bratcher in the sixth, who gave up a single run before Owen Neal came in to finish the game. Neal had one strikeout.

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