ANDOVER — Bobby Warchuck cranked his intensity level up an extra notch in the seventh inning of Andover Central's regional championship win over Arkansas City Tuesday night.
His final two outs of the night were strikeouts, and after the last batter went down looking and the 4-1 win went into the books, Warchuck's fist pump and yell expressed more than any words could.
This may not have been Warchuck's first complete game, but it was definitely the most meaningful.
"I really wanted this," Warchuck said. "I missed out on the (state experience) my sophomore and my junior year. I really wanted this one, and I wasn't going to let anyone else take it away."
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It was a special moment for senior shortstop Jack Gentry too. He said being a part of this young, trailblazing program has been a blast.
"Being able to win the eighth regional championship in school history is great, and we've only been open nine years. It's really satisfying to do that and be a part of history for our school."
Andover Central put the heat on Ark City early. It put up a three-run first inning, capitalizing on four singles. Jason Axtell drove in Jack Gentry for a 1-0 lead. The Jaguars would add to the lead by getting runners across the plated on a balk and an error.
That offensive surge would turn out to be the deciding factor in a well-pitched game.
"After playing Andover really close, we knew had to get the bats going quick," Gentry said. "They had a good guy on the mound and we knew we had to jump on them early. And scoring runs early is obviously what helped us in the game."
After that four-hit first inning, Arkansas City pitcher Brent Burroughs found his stride and kept Andover Central batters off balance with a breaking ball that kept finding the strike zone at the last second. He pitched a complete game.
Warchuck only gave up three hits, something that coach Grant Bacon knew the team would need.
"I think the whole game he was mixing it up and getting ahead of hitters," Bacon said. "And once he was ahead, he was making smart decisions with the next pitch. Obviously getting strike one was huge, and he did that all game."
Andover Central 4, Ark City 1
Andover Central 3000100 — 4 11 1 Ark City 0000010 — 1 3 1
WP — Warchuck, LP — Burroughs
Ark City 5, Liberal 1
Liberal000 001 0 — 1 3 9 Arkansas City001 400 x — 5 4 1
Andover Central 5, Andover 1
Andover100 000 0 — 1 2 2 Andover Central101 021 x — 5 8 0