By Jeff Nations
WOODSTOCK -- The bats might still be coming along and the pitching still has some work to do, but Central's defense flashed mid-season form against visiting Stonewall Jackson in Thursday's non-district baseball matchup.
The Generals consistently put the ball in play and hit it hard, but the Falcons made all the plays in an error-free performance. That sharp glove work shined for Central coach Donn Foltz, who also got pretty good efforts on the mound and at the plate from his team in a 7-2 victory.
Senior right-handed pitcher Hayden Bauserman picked up a complete-game victory, allowing four hits and no walks while striking out three for Central (3-1).
"His defense was good behind him," Foltz said. "That's what I was most impressed by tonight. A no-error game, that's what I wanted. That's two nights back-to-back with no errors. It kind of scares me for the next game."
The Falcons got on the scoreboard early against Stonewall Jackson left-handed starter Nathan Miller, who was pitching for the first time this season. Central's Tristan Rau drew a one-out walk and eventually came around to score on a wild pitch.
Central made it 2-0 in the bottom of the second inning. Brandon Paschall led off the frame with a single to center field, stole second and later scored on Brady Baker's ground out.
The Generals, meanwhile, made 10 straight outs to open the game despite hitting the ball hard.
"Tonight I felt like we hit the ball very well, but right to people," Stonewall Jackson coach Mike Lenox said. "Hayden's a good pitcher, but I felt like every ball we hit went to somebody tonight. That's the way it goes."
Miller broke up Bauserman's perfect-game bid with a clean single to right field in the fourth, and Stonewall ended his shutout bid an inning later. Kory Somers beat out an infield hit, moved to second on Matthew Murphy's sacrifice bunt, then scored on Bradley Henschel's RBI double to right-center.
Central got its offense going in the bottom of the fifth as the top of the lineup came up to bat. Jordan Rau led off with a double and Tristan Rau beat out a bunt for a single. Cody Sager and Bauserman followed with back-to-back RBI singles, and then the Falcons' Zach Herbaugh drove in two more runs with a double to right.
That ended Miller's night.
"I think it was the [third] time through the lineup. I guess they just got onto him," Lenox said. "I wanted to see what he could do and I wanted to get him some work to pitch in some pressure situations and get used to that type of atmosphere."
Central's Luis Delvalle plated one more run with an RBI groundout off Stonewall reliever Matthew Murphy, who escaped further damage after coming on with no outs in the inning.
"We had a lot of balls hit in the air and made some adjustments," Foltz said. "We hit a lot of good, crisp balls in that fifth inning."
Stonewall Jackson (0-3) struck again in the top of the sixth. Colton Harlow led off with a triple, then scored on Cole Holsinger's RBI groundout.
Holsinger, making his season debut on the pitching mound just like his teammates Miller and Murphy, pitched a scoreless sixth. But Bauserman made quick work of the Generals in the top of the seventh to close out the win.
"He's only pitched one other time, and the last time we played them he just wasn't as sharp," Foltz said. "This was more like him."
Jordan Rau led the Falcons with a 2-for-4 effort with a double and a stolen base.
Contact Sports Editor Jeff Nations at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or firstname.lastname@example.org>