Eagles beat Wildecats, gain 3A playoffs Baseball

May 18, 1993|By Chuck Acquisto | Chuck Acquisto,Contributing Writer

Moments after defeating Wilde Lake in their final regular-season game, Centennial's players let Ron Martin realize a postseason berth belonged to the Eagles (11-7, 10-4) by giving their coach an ice cooler shower.

In a two-way battle for the playoffs with Atholton, Centennial's 9-4 win over the visiting Wildecats (3-14, 2-12) yesterday clinched the fourth and final Class 3A, Region I postseason spot.

Centennial's victory reflected a season that found the Eagles' deep pitching staff carrying a timely hitting ball club with little home run power.

"Every game this year has been decided by one or two runs or gone extra innings, and pitching is what has kept us in every game," Martin said, praising his rotation of senior Brent Mertes and juniors Kurt Weitzel and David Hudson.

Weitzel set the tone for the Eagles by striking out seven of the first eight Wilde Lake batters he faced. The Centennial pitcher struck out 10 Wildecats in five innings, seven looking at called third strikes, to improve his team-best record to 6-3 and his season strikeout total to 79 in 50 innnings.

"I had all three pitches today and Wilde Lake had no idea what I was going to throw," Weitzel said. "Then when they started getting a few squibbers in the holes, I got some good defense behind me to get out of any danger."

Wilde Lake coach Tim O'Brien was impressed with Weitzel's ability to change speeds on his pitches.

"His fastball was good, not great, but his ability to mix it up had our kids vegging out at the plate," O'Brien said. "His curve wobbled a few of our batters' knees. We really let him dictate the game to us and that was the key."

Weitzel received all the run support he would need early as Wilde Lake committed six errors to open the door for Centennial's 7-0 lead after three innings.

Wilde Lake starter Nate Casalla nearly wiggled out of a one-out, bases-loaded situation in the first when Centennial senior third baseman Chris Forstner lined out to Wildecats second baseman Brian Gerring, who almost doubled up Hudson off first base.

Centennial sophomore left fielder Kevin O'Connor, who entered yesterday's game with a team-high nine extra-base hits, did the damage with a two-out single to right field that scored sophomore Brian Dowell and Jason Babcock for a 2-0 lead. With Curtis Mitchell batting, Casalla's wild pitch allowed Hudson to score a third run, but the Wildecats' pitcher managed to retrieve catcher Tony DeSantis' wild throw to him and deliver a perfect strike back to his batterymate in time to get O'Connor at the plate for the inning's final out.

O'Connor (2-for-3) picked up his team-leading 15th RBI in the third inning with another single to right field that scored Forstner, who had reached on an error, from second base.

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