Price proves he’s ready to be Central’s top starter in opener

Being the starting pitcher in the season opener suggests Michael Price will be Central’s ace this season. His performance Thursday at Suplizio Field suggests he’s ready for the role.

Price limited Horizon to two runs on three hits in six innings as the Warriors triumphed 11-4 during the first day of the Bill Fanning Memorial Classic.

The 6-foot-1, 205-pound senior was one out away from a five-inning no-hitter until a left-handed pinch hitter singled through the right side of the infield. Before that, Horizon’s batters consistently returned to the dugout after either striking out or grounding out.

The Hawks walked twice and got hit by a pitch to go with that single in the top of the fifth inning, plating two runs. But when Price returned for the sixth, he served the Hawks more of what they got in the first four frames and capped his day by picking off a runner at first base.

Price finished with the victory, striking out eight batters, walking two and hitting one.

Asked if he considers himself to be the staff ace, Price said, “I’d like to say I am,” but he added, “We have a lot of other good arms. ... We have a lot of talent behind me.”

Central coach Chuck Yost had a more succinct answer to the question about whether Price is the Warriors’ ace, saying, “Oh, yeah.”

Then, Yost expounded: “He’s come in this year a different kid with a little different attitude. He knows there’s more at stake this year.”

Price said he felt good and helped his cause by consistently getting ahead of hitters.

“I don’t work well behind batters,” Price said. “It’s good to get on top, and then you can kind of play around with them and do what you want.

“My fastball was on today — I had good movement on it ­— and my circle change was on. It was sweeping the zone and doing what I wanted it to do.”

Yost also pointed to Price getting ahead in counts when he said Price threw a great game.

“He kept them off balance. He was all over the zone,” Yost said. “You couldn’t ask for a better first outing.”

Price said he was “a little aware” he had a chance for a five-inning no-hitter when the Warriors took an 11-0 lead in the bottom of the fourth. Not getting it didn’t bother him.

“The no-hitter is fun and all,” he said, “but we won the game 11-4, and that’s all I care about.”

Central scored the game’s first four runs in the second inning, despite getting only one hit.

Alex Schaneman, who had three hits, singled in a run in the third to make it 5-0. Then, Andrew Martinez, Tanner Huskey and Cole Rupe each hit a two-run double in the fourth as the Warriors got their bats going and put their final six runs on the scoreboard.

“We hit some balls hard that just were right at people,” Yost said of the first three innings. “We didn’t get frustrated. We kept swinging away, and finally it paid off for us.”


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