Central wins area baseball title

Central 3, Smiths Station 0

PHENIX CITY, AL (WTVM) - Tanner Belcher drove in all three runs and Noah Wilkes and Jackson Cook combine on a three-hit shutout to lead Central to a 3-0 win over Smiths Station to claim the AHSAA 7A-Area 3 title on Wednesday night at Darnell-Nelson Field.

Belcher drove in a run in the first with a double, then brought in the other two with a pure hustle play. With the bases loaded, Belcher hit a two-out grounder to the right side of the infield, then beat Panthers first baseman Blake Rivera to the bag. Zach Ellis scored easily while Zach Bozeman sprinted in from second base to score the final run.

Wilkes threw six-plus scoreless innings, allowing eight hits and striking out seven to pick up the win. Cook retired the final three batter to earn a save.

The area title is the first for Central since 2012.

The two teams have a rematch in Smiths on Thursday, but the first game of the doubleheader is the one that matters. If Smiths wins the opener, they claim the runner-up spot in the region. If they lose, Auburn is the area runner-up. First pitch is set for 5 pm ET.