Hammond celebrates No. 1 ranking with 11-1 win

Maxey's homer in fifth goes 400 feet, sends Bears to victory over Centennial

Baseball

High School

April 24, 2001|By Kevin Van Valkenburg | Kevin Van Valkenburg,SUN STAFF

A 400-foot home run, courtesy of Hammond catcher Jason Maxey helped the Bears celebrate the school's first-ever No. 1 ranking in baseball with an 11-1 thumping of Centennial yesterday.

"That baby did go a long way, didn't it?" said Hammond coach Bob Maxey, Jason's father.

It certainly did. In fact, anyone quick to accuse Maxey the elder of nepotism for his praise either didn't see it, or is kidding himself. The two-out, two-run hit, which came off Centennial's Brian Neidig, was Jason Maxey's fifth home run of the year and capped a five-run fifth inning that turned a one-run game into a comfortable victory for the Bears.

"The scary thing is, I don't even think we're playing at the top of our game yet," said third baseman Brian Brewer, who had two hits and three RBIs on the day. "Centennial is an excellent team, and they hung around with us for quite a while, but we kind of mashed the ball late in the game."

Just how high the ceiling may be for Hammond is still up for debate. The Bears did make three errors, and Neidig, an otherwise excellent pitcher with a wicked curve, held the Bears at bay for nearly five innings. But the facts speak for themselves: At 13-0, Hammond is the only remaining undefeated team not just in the county, but in the Baltimore area.

"Everything has been sharp for us lately, but on top of that, we've been having fun," Bob Maxey said. "I think that's been pretty important for us, staying relaxed, not looking ahead at the schedule and just playing whoever is next."

That more or less explains the way Jeff Miller pitched against the Eagles. Regardless of the hitter, Miller simply kept up a steady diet of off-speed pitches and mixed in a good fastball, limiting Centennial to only two hits while striking out four and going six innings for the win.

Hammond closed out the game in the sixth inning with six consecutive hits, giving the Bears 13 on the day, as Austin Brandt doubled, and then was followed by singles from John Skojec, Pat Fields, Jason Maxey, Brewer, Joey Benedetti and Adam Heffron.

"We're starting to hit through the lineup, one through nine," Bob Maxey said. "I guess one might label us a mashing team. We've got above-average pitching, and our defense can be shaky, but we're going to hit the ball like we did today."

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