Centennial, Loveless tame Hammond, 8-5

Four-run first inning helps sophomore get win

March 25, 2000|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

Centennial sophomore Brad Loveless admitted his first varsity start made him a little nervous yesterday.

The short fences at Hammond and the Bears' home-run hitting lineup can give the most veteran of high school pitchers a case of jitters.

But his offense treated him to a four-run first inning to ease his nerves, and the sharp-looking right-hander turned in a sound performance, leading the No. 8-ranked Eagles (2-0 overall, 2-0 league) to a key 8-5 victory over No. 12-ranked Hammond.

Both teams had opened their seasons Thursday with no-hit pitching performances.

In picking up his first victory, Loveless, who was 7-0 for Calvert Hall's junior varsity last season, pitched four strong innings before weakening in the fifth inning, when he allowed three runs on two home runs before being relieved by Brian Neidig.

"He was working the corners and his sinker was effective," said Centennial's first-year coach Mike Lerner. "I thought he deserved a shot at getting through the fifth inning, so I left him in even though he got up to 85 pitches."

Neidig gave up a single and was the victim of two errors before he struck out Austin Brandt and induced Phil Pinkham to line out to shortstop Greg Eller, leaving the Bears trailing 8-5.

Neidig kept the Bears (1-1, 1-1) off the scoreboard in the sixth and seventh innings.

"It was a tough situation because they were really starting to hit the ball, but I threw strikes and relied on my fastball and curveball," Neidig said. "As long as I stayed ahead in the count I was in control."

Centennial's Steve Lazarewicz slugged a three-run home run in the first inning, and Mark Gustafson hit a run-scoring single following a pair of walks.

Centennial added three runs in the second on a bases-empty home run by Anthony Brudis, a double by Phil Down, an error, a hit batter and Neidig's groundout.

Ryan Barwick's solo homer in the fourth concluded Centennial's scoring.

A bases-empty home run by Jason Harriman and a two-run homer by Brian Brewer accounted for three Hammond runs in the fifth inning, and Kevin Schwartz's single scored a fourth run that inning.

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