Centennial can't recover against Stone, falls, 5-4

May 25, 1994|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,Sun Staff Writer

All season long Centennial's pitching was dominant. It produced eight shutouts. Opponents averaged just two runs per game.

Centennial, the Howard County champion, relied so heavily on its pitching that it won just two games in which it allowed more than two runs.

So when Thomas Stone took a 5-0 lead in the top of the first inning of the Class 3A state semifinals yesterday at Arundel High School, Centennial knew it was in trouble.

The Eagles scored in the first, second and sixth innings and got base runners in every inning but the fourth. But when Thomas Stone starting pitcher Wayne Fowler (12-1) struck out Kurt Weitzel to end the game, the Eagles were on the short end of a 5-4 score.

It was an especially frustrating defeat because Centennial (19-4) had lost in the state finals last season to Lansdowne, and had worked hard in the off-season.

What it came down to against Thomas Stone (18-3) was one bad inning by starting pitcher Dave Hudson and by Centennial's defense.

"I didn't have my breaking ball in the first inning, so they waited for my fastball and they hit it," Hudson said. "In the second inning I got my breaking ball and found that they couldn't hit it."

The biggest hit of the first, a two-run single by Fowler, came on a two-strike pitch that was high and outside.

"I just slapped at it and hit it to the opposite field," Fowler said. "We didn't know anything about this team except that it had a guy who threw hard. We weren't worried because we're fastball hitters."

Hudson (9-2) retired the batter after Fowler on a ground ball for the second out of the inning, but a single and then a wild pitch sent a third run across.

A fly ball to center that was misjudged fell for a double and scored the fourth run. And an error by shortstop Joe Mellendick, who had made only one error all season, allowed the fifth run.

"You have to give Dave [Hudson] a lot of credit," Centennial coach Ron Martin said. "He could have died after that first inning."

Hudson threw a strong game the rest of the way, allowing just two more hits and three walks. He struck out nine, including all three batters in the seventh inning.

"It's frustrating. All season we've stayed away from that one bad inning," Hudson said. "I thought we could come back because we have a never-say-die attitude.' "

Mellendick hit a two-run double in the bottom of the first to cut the lead to 5-2.

Singles by Kevin O'Connor, Jeff Windish and Brian Dowell accounted for a run in the second inning.

Hudson led off the sixth inning with a 360-foot home run for Centennial's fourth run. It came on a 3-2 pitch. Mellendick singled and later reached second base on Mitchell's sacrifice bunt. But Dan Christine's 360-foot drive to center field was caught.

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