MARTINSBURG - An 11-day layoff leading up to the District 6 Class AA playoffs had Central baseball coach A.J. Hoenstine a little concerned, but the Scarlet Dragons quickly put their coach at ease.
Central scored seven runs in the second inning, and Tyler Ferguson shut down the Ligonier Valley lineup in an 11-1 win in five innings.
The hard-throwing lefty gave up just two hits and struck out 13.
Ferguson improved his record to 6-2 and has struck out 76 batters in 50 innings this season.
"After the first inning, he was dominant. He was in total control out there," Hoenstine said. "The key was throwing his off-speed pitches for strikes. He was getting his curveball over and even threw his circle change a couple times for strikes."
After giving up a solo home run and walking two batters in the first, Ferguson found his rhythm in the second, striking out 11 of the final 13 batters he faced.
"The first inning's always tough. I had a case of the jitters being back here in the playoffs for the first time since last year's run to the state championship game," Ferguson said. "Once I noticed they weren't swinging, the catcher's mitt got 10 times bigger."
Third-seeded Central visits number two-seed Philipsburg-Osceola Thursday in the district semifinals. The two teams split a pair of games in the regular season.
Central's seven-run second gave Ferguson all the runs he would need.
After Lucas Blattenberger doubled home Mason Longenecker to tie the score at 1-1, three straight bunt singles set the table for a really big inning. Two more singles, an error and a fielder's choice gave Central a commanding lead.
"We made a couple bugaboos on defense in the second inning, and it just snowballed on us," Ligonier Valley coach John Jones said.
Central scored twice in the fourth and added two more in the fifth. Lucas Runk singled home Jarron Knisely and Pat Schon in the fifth, bringing the 10-run mercy rule into effect.
Schon and Runk led the Central offense with two hits apiece. Runk drove in three runs, and Schon and Knisely each scored two runs. Nine different players had at least one hit and scored at least one run.
LIGONIER?VALLEY (1): Ferlin 2b 201, Tutino ss 200, Jones p-3b 211, Ritenour rf 100, R. Torrence lf 200, Emminger 1b 100, A. Torrence c 200, Ryan 3b 200, Bealonis p 000, Taggert cf 200. Totals - 16-1-2.
CENTRAL (1): Schon rf 322, Cunningham ss 311, Runk cf 412, Hamm c 311, Baird 1b 311, Longenecker 3b 210, Blattenberger dh 111, Ferguson p 000, Negley lf 211, Forshey ph 100, Knisely 2b 221, Stern ph 101. Totals - 25-11-11.
SCORE BY INNINGS
E-Tutino 2, Ferlin, A. Torrence. 2B-Blattenberger. HR - Jones. RBI-Jones, Runk 3, Cunningham, Baird, Longenecker, Blattenberger, Knisely. WP-Ferguson. LP-Jones. SO-Jones 5, Ferguson 13. BB-Jones 1, Bealonis 1, Ferguson 3.
Records: Ligonier Valley (13-7); Central (14-6).