VISALIA — Austin Price pitched a complete-game shutout, Wyatt Bookout drove in two runs and scored twice, and Central California advanced to the championship bracket with a 10-0 victory over Midwest Plains at Riverway Sports Park on Tuesday.

“That was our goal from day one,” Central California coach Carlos Perez said as he choked up. “Our goal is make it to the championship bracket because that’s when the tournament starts. It’s pretty special.”

Central California (3-2) only needed four innings to mercy their opponent on the final day of pool play, which saw just about everything go right for them. They teed up the ball early and were perfect on defense with zero errors.

“We were out in front a couple times, but they adjusted well and they put the ball in play,” Perez said.

They scored five runs in the bottom of the first inning starting with shortstop David Hilyard’s one-out walk. Bookout singled to center and Preston King delivered a two-run shot to get Central California on the board. Aiden Redding increased the lead with an RBI double and, after a walk by Manny Souza, Nicholas Trejo hit his own two-run single.

With a 5-0 lead, Price went to work on the mound and turned in a gem. In his first start of the 2019 Major/60 Cal Ripken World Series, Price pitched four scoreless innings with five strikeouts and two walks.

“It’s amazing,” Price said about his complete game. “It’s my first time doing this and it feels pretty good.”

He allowed seven hits, but used his fastball to hit the outside corner and work out of jams with two runners on in the second and third innings. Midwest Plains (0-5) loaded the bases in the fourth, but a 4-3 ground out ended the scoring threat. Price kept opposing hitters 1-for-5 with runners in scoring position.

On his performance, Price said he was, “just throwing strikes” and was comfortable because he knew “that my defense had my back.”

Trejo added another run in the third on an RBI single to score pinch runner Dalton Areias. Pinch hitter Troy Aguilar led off the fourth with a single — his first hit of the World Series — and Gavin Luna followed with a single to left. After an error scored Aguilar, Bookout hit a two-run single to make it 9-0.

“I was just looking for a fastball wherever,” Bookout said. “I didn’t care if it was inside or outside. Just get those runs in and that’s all that matters.”

Bookout was named the Ron Tellefsen Player of the Game after going 2-for-3 with two RBIs. He scored the final run of the game after an error by Midwest Plain’s first baseman.

“It’s special,” Bookout said. “There’s a small percent chance you’ll get it and it’s pretty cool to get the feeling of getting the recognition.”

Bookout (2), King (2) and Trejo (3) combined for eight RBIs, while Hilyard scored twice. The team tied for a tournament-high 11 hits — they had 11 in their first game against Pacific Northwest — and were 6-for-12 (.500) with RISP.

The game was a quick one hour and four minutes, which helped save pitchers for Central California and allowed Souza, who’s caught every inning, to rest in the fourth.

“To me, that’s a big inning,” Perez said. “That’s an extra hour in the sun, that’s an extra hour now in the shade and resting, and saved our pitching. Even though it’s only two innings, it’s a big step.”

Central California finishes third in the American Division will face New England (4-1) at 7:30 p.m. at Riverway Sports Park. New England will be the home team after finishing in second place in the National Division. The championship bracket is single elimination.

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Noe Garcia can be reached at (559) 583-2431 or ngarcia@hanfordsentinel.com. Follow Noe on Twitter at @noecarlosgarcia.

Sports Reporter

Sports reporter for The Sentinel

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