Gents Win Pair to Advance to Mid-Con Tourney Championship
Saturday, May 28, 2005

TULSA, Okla – The Centenary baseball team won a pair of games in the losers bracket of the Mid-Continent Conference Tournament to reach a conference championship game for the first time since 1994.  The Gents defeated Western Illinois 6-5 before downing Southern Utah 7-3.  Centenary must defeat undefeated, top-seeded Oral Roberts twice to win the Mid-Con title.


The Gents found themselves with a 5-0 deficit in the opening game against Western Illinois after giving up a lone run in the third followed by four in the fifth.  Centenary began to battle back a half inning later, scoring one run on a double play ball by J.C. Biagi, driving home Jared Vincent.


Centenary added another pair of runs an inning later as Justin Darr’s single drove home David Kiefer before Vincent’s sacrifice fly to right field scored freshman Chris Wilson.


The beginning of the seventh marked a 5-3 lead for the Leathernecks, but also signaled the end for Centneary starter Will Kaage.  The sophomore hurler threw six innings, giving up just two earned runs on eight hits before being relieved by David McElroy (8-2).  McElroy would shut down WIU the rest of the way, allowing for a late Centenary comeback.


Biagi, A.J. Howes, and Alex Valdivia each drove in runs in the eighth to give Centenary a 6-5 lead they would not relinquish.  Vincent scored the game-winning run on a short chopping groundout to the shortstop.


The second game was marked by a standout performance by sophomore pitcher Brandon Fulenchek (1-0).  The southpaw tossed his first complete game of the season for the victory, giving up three runs on six hits while striking out six.  Fulenchek gave up the first run in the third on two hits before surrendering solo home runs in the eighth and ninth innings.


Offensively, the Gents plated four runs in the third and never looked back.  RBI singles by Biagi and Tim Ryan gave Centenary the lead, allowing David Kiefer to deliver a two RBI single for what would become the game-winning runs.


Centenary would add another run in the fourth on a bases loaded walk by Ryan, and two more in the eighth off of Ryan’s third RBI and Valdivia scoring on a Thunderbird wild pitch.  Biagi and Ryan both drove in three runs on the day while Vincent scored three times.


The Gents faces the host Golden Eagles at 1 p.m. on Saturday.  The Gents must win twice against ORU in the double elimination tournament, while Oral Roberts needs just a single victory over Centenary to claim the conference crown.  The Gents’ last trip to a conference final came in 1994 when they played in the TAAC.


The Mid-Con championship game can be followed through live stats at the following link: