Season starts with a bang

Centennial, Hammond register no-hitters

Boys notebook

March 26, 2000|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

A little bit of baseball March Madness reared its head Thursday, opening day, when Centennial and Hammond pitching staffs each produced abbreviated no-hitters.

The Eagles' Nate Ochsner launched his comeback season by shutting down Atholton, 10-0, at Centennial. The senior right-hander struck out eight and walked five during a five-inning game that ended because of the 10-run rule.

"One ball was hit pretty well off me in the fourth inning," Ochsner said about his first high school no-hitter.

Ochsner has a 10-2 career record and was second-team All-County his freshman season, but sat out last season for personal reasons. He gave first-year coach Mike Lerner a winning debut.

Ochsner's pitching repertoire contains a varied assortment of the usual stuff. "I threw a fastball, curve and change," said Ochsner, who as an outfielder led the 15-16 Columbia Reds in batting average and stolen bases last summer but did not pitch much.

Lerner, who pitched three one-hitters but never a no-hitter during his career at Hammond, said: "Nate was wild enough to be effective. He got ahead and then forced them to chase a bit and that's what works for him. He made them hit his pitches."

The Bears' Kevin Schwartz and Sid Abel combined for the other opening day no-hitter, a 10-0 win over Wilde Lake.

Schwartz, a hard-throwing junior right-hander, walked three batters during his three-inning start, and Abel closed the game with two perfect innings.

Neither Atholton nor Wilde Lake expect winning seasons, so the no-hitters lacked a little of the luster normally associated with such benchmark performances.

"But hey, a no-hitter's a no-hitter," said Hammond coach Bob Maxey. "You still have to throw strikes and get people out."

Predictable start

The first week of the baseball season started predictably.

Centennial, Glenelg and Howard shared the county title last season.

The same three teams each won their first two games last week and are in a three-way tie for first place.

Hammond, Mount Hebron, River Hill and Long Reach each split their games.

The upset of the week went to Long Reach, 6-5 victors over River Hill.

Lerner learned well

In his second game as a head coach, Lerner came up against his alma mater and former coach, Bob Maxey.

Lerner was looking forward to the challenge and his Eagles came out on top, 8-5.

"Maxey is a great coach and Hammond is a tough place to play, so you have to be happy to come out with a win," Lerner said. "I've helped coach at Howard for the last three years, so I've been in the visitor's dugout before at Hammond, but it never quite feels right."

Go grounds crews

Coaches were heaping praise on the grounds crews for getting the fields ready to play on Thursday after heavy rains washed out Wednesday's games.

"I was not expecting to play," Lerner said. "Joe Dick and his crew did an outstanding job."

Howard coach Rich Jenkins was similarly impressed. "It's amazing that all five games were played," he said. "They turned our field over three times during the day to get it dried out."

All-Metro Monday

A special All-Metro section for high school winter sports will be published Monday, March 27. The section will highlight the top athletes and coaches in boys and girls basketball, wrestling, and boys and girls indoor track and field.

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