Centennial overtakes Atholton

April 12, 1994|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,Sun Staff Writer

Championship teams have the ability to win games despite subpar performances from their star pitchers.

Centennial (5-1, 3-0) showed that kind of championship character yesterday by rallying to a 6-5 victory over previously unbeaten Atholton (5-1, 2-1).

Eagles starter Kurt Weitzel didn't look as though he would survive the bottom of the first inning in which he allowed four runs and threw 41 pitches.

Atholton batted around that inning on two walks, two hits, an error and a hit batsman. The first four Raiders reached base.

Leadoff batter Jason Sandner made Weitzel throw 11 pitches before coaxing a walk. The next batter, Billy Hite, also walked.

Then Brandon Eierman, who was batting .611, hit the first of his three singles to left field and it scored Sandner. Derrek Schneider was hit by a pitch to load the bases with no outs.

A sacrifice fly, an error and a single followed before Weitzel struck out Jamie Burford to end the inning.

No. 20 Centennial, which had scored one run in the top of the first inning on an error and Weitzel's groundout, trailed 4-1.

But Weitzel, who allowed five hits and walked four, recovered to pitch all seven innings, throwing 105 pitches. He struck out seven and retired 10 straight at one point.

He hadn't pitched in nine days. "I couldn't hit my spots, and when I did, Atholton hit it hard," he said. "I wasn't pleased with my performance. I was getting it up high and my defense bailed me out."

It was actually the offense that bailed out Weitzel, and that's the added dimension which makes Centennial a better team than last year when the Eagles lost in the state Class 3A finals.

Centennial rocked Atholton starter Dan Keyser for four hits and three runs in the fourth inning, including back-to-back singles by Jason Babcock and Weitzel, a run-producing double by Dave Hudson, a sacrifice fly by Joe Mellendick and an RBI single by Jeff Windish.

A year ago, Centennial lacked that comeback ability and depended almost entirely upon pitching and defense.

"Because we can rely on our offense, this really is a much different team than last year," said Hudson, who produced the game-winning RBI on a fifth-inning single off relief pitcher Spike Altman.

Curtis Mitchell led off that inning with a double. A sacrifice bunt, a stolen base, a throwing error and Hudson's single accounted for the two runs.

Atholton rallied for one run in the sixth inning, but Centennial escaped major damage due to a great defensive play by Centennial center fielder Mitchell and a base running error by Atholton's Pete Yoder.

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