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Hurst leads Centreville to 11-1 win

CENTREVILLE — The Brookhaven Academy Cougars did not look anything like the No. 1 team in Class AA Tuesday afternoon in Game 1 of the MAIS Class AA South State Championship series.

Centreville Academy’s Cliff Hurst had a lot to do with that, whether it was on the mound or at the plate. And surprisingly, Cougars pitcher Tripp Jolly had a less-than-stellar performance.

All of that added up to the Tigers taking the opening game of this best-of-three series 11-1 in six innings. Game 2 is Thursday afternoon at 5 p.m. at Brookhaven Academy and Game 3, if necessary, will follow.

As to the key to the Tigers’ win, head coach Jason Horne said, “Hurst keeping them off balance with his pitching. Everybody’s hitting the ball, putting it in play.”

Hurst went the distance for No. 4 Centreville Academy (22-9). He allowed just one run on seven hits, struck out five and walked two. The defense behind him committed no errors.

“Hurst has been our go-to guy all year. He’s a battler and a warrior,” Horne said. “He does what it takes to win.”

In addition to his magnificent performance on the mound, Hurst had a double, a home run and four runs batted in. His two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth ended the game early. That was his 12th home run of the season.

The Tigers got the game rolling in the bottom of the first inning by scoring five runs. Brad Jelks and Ethan Noland each had RBI singles. Jolly had control issues from the start with a couple of walks in that frame.

“Jolly’s an outstanding pitcher. We made him wind up,” Horne said. “We just put a little hitting together.”

The strategy worked as Jolly lasted just four innings, giving up nine runs on eight hits and six walks while striking out six.

Noland finished with two hits and three RBIs. Brad Jelks had two hits, including a double. Randy Bell had a triple and Corey Gaulden had two hits.

After Brookhaven Academy (25-8) scored its only run of the game in the top of the third inning, Centreville responded by scoring two runs in the bottom of the third. The Tigers then plated two more runs in the bottom of the fourth to make it a 9-1 game.

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