Because Andover Central shortstop Cole Taylor has been doing this all year, and because he’s developed a reputation for delivering in the clutch, what happened Thursday came as little surprise to those who know him best.
And when Taylor laced a pitch by Eudora’s Zach Courbat over the head of center fielder Ben VanDiest for a two-out, two-RBI double with his team trailing in the Class 4A-I baseball quarterfinals, it was Andover Central coach Grant Bacon who was best able to put it in quick, simple perspective.
“He’s been our guy all year, and in clutch situations Cole always seems to step up,” Bacon said. “That ball just kept going and going. That was awesome.”
Taylor’s double in the third broke a 1-1 tie and triggered a 4-2 win for Andover Central (13-10), which pulled off the upset of top-seeded Eudora (18-5).
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Andover Central tied the score on a sacrifice fly by Clark Schoonover in the third inning.
“It seemed like (Courbat) was going first-pitch fastball for a lot of guys in a row, so when I came up the second time that’s what I was looking for,” Taylor said. “I got a little bit under it and it seemed to carry just past (VanDiest).”
The Jaguars will face the Chanute-Paola winner in Friday’s semifinals.
“We’ve preached the whole week about being patient at the plate,” Bacon said. “We were down in the regional championship, so we knew just to stay calm.”
Junior Austin Ray picked up the complete-game win for Andover Central, giving up four hits and one earned run with two walks. Ray got a visit from Bacon in the third after Eudora scored a run to make it 3-2.
“I went back in the dugout and just asked (Bacon) if he was going to let me finish,” Ray said. “And he goes, ‘Of course I am,’ and that kind of got me going. Just gave me that little boost I needed.”
Andover Central added its insurance run in the fourth, when Jackson Lewallen led off with a single, stole second, advanced to third on a throwing error during a rundown and scored on another throwing error.
Andover Central 4, Eudora 2
4 5 1
2 4 3
W — Ray. L — Courbat.