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Glenelg baseball keeps coming back, pulls out 5-4 regional final win over Centennial

May 14—Glenelg baseball is battle-tested. The Gladiators have time and time again showed their resilience with come-from-behind wins.

Tuesday evening's Class 2A West Region II final was no different. Glenelg trailed by a run in the first and sixth innings, but like they have all season, the top-seeded Gladiators responded with their backs against the wall to prevail over No. 2 seed Centennial, 5-4, and earn their third straight region title.

Glenelg (16-3) advances to the 2A state quarterfinals and awaits its next matchup after the eight region winners are reseeded.

"We've been there, done that," coach Steve Tiffany said. "We were down 6-1 to Reservoir in one game and they had us beat 2-0 in another one. We were down 4-0 in our regional semifinal Saturday. Our kids are so resilient. I kept telling them, 'We've been there, done that.' This is three straight region championships for Glenelg baseball and I don't know the last time anyone's done that around this area."

The program's six seniors have spearheaded that resolve, and it showed again Tuesday night. After Centennial scored in the top of the first, Glenelg responded with three in the bottom half. Senior Logan Pusheck laced a two-out triple, followed by RBI hits from seniors Michael Tolle and Zach LaFountain.

After Centennial tacked on two runs in the fifth to retake the lead, Tolle found himself in a big spot once again. With one out and the bases loaded, he ripped a grounder up the middle that was snared by Eagles shortstop Aariz Khan.

As Centennial went for a double play, the throw to first went wide and allowed a second Gladiator to score on the play to give Glenelg the lead.

"I just knew I had to hit it hard," Tolle said. "They had been giving me first-pitch pitches to hit all day and I hadn't taken advantage. I was fouling the ball off too much, so I knew if it was a pitch I liked, I was going to jump on it. I saw the shortstop had it and I knew they were going for the double play. I knew I was fast enough to beat it out and I got to second as a bonus with the wide throw."

After five innings from Nick Bilotto, Pusheck, who had pitched just 12 innings all season, entered in relief for the Gladiators. However, Tiffany didn't hesitate in turning to the four-year varsity player. Centennial (13-5) loaded the bases with one out, once again putting Pusheck and the Gladiators' backs against the wall.

The veteran delivered in the big moment. He struck out Charlie Wentker and Zach Kelley to get out of the jam and preserve the one-run lead. A fired up Pusheck took his hat off and emphatically pumped his fists on the way to the dugout.

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"I knew I had to throw strikes in that situation," Pusheck said. "The conditions, the passed balls. Walks are really what score runs in the playoffs. So, I knew if I threw strikes and gave my defense a chance, I had a chance."

Centennial had one final shot in the seventh. Pusheck left nothing to chance and worked a 1-2-3 inning, shutting the door on the Eagles.

The Gladiators don't want this ride to end and earned at least one more opportunity to build on this special three-year run.

"I just love playing baseball," Tolle said. "All day I was just watching 'Sandlot,' I started watching 'Major League.' I was just thinking baseball. I don't want to stop after today, it's just great to play with all these guys."

Pusheck added: "Our goal is always to practice the next day after an elimination game. As a senior, you do everything for that next game. No one was taking me out of that spot, bases loaded. You do anything for the guys. We love each other and we really talk about a family."

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Centennial — 110 020 0 — 4 8 2

Glenelg — 300 020 X — 5 8 0

WP: Nick Bilotto; LP: Zach Harris

2B: C- Carter Bade, Cade Ahearn, Zach Harris; G- Michael Tolle, Blake Bourne. 3B: G- Logan Pusheck.