Siblings spark Eagles' rally, 3-1

Led by Brudis brothers, Centennial bursts in 6th, advances past Howard

Baseball

High schools

May 12, 2001|By Kevin Van Valkenburg | Kevin Van Valkenburg,SUN STAFF

Oh brother.

That was the rallying cry yesterday at Centennial, and for good reason, as Billy Brudis hit a clutch two-out double in the sixth inning to drive home his brother Anthony Brudis, helping the Eagles to a 3-1 baseball victory over Howard in the first round of the 2A South Regional playoffs.

"We've been playing baseball together for a long time so it looks like it paid off right now," Billy Brudis said. "It was time to do something. We hadn't been hitting the ball much and it was getting late in the game."

Until the double, Centennial and Howard had played to a standoff, the dual highlighted by two excellent pitching performances. The Lions' Matt Holley struck out seven and gave up only three hits through five innings, but Tom Phelen and Brian Neidig combined to match Holley's efforts, giving up two hits through five.

But a sharp grounder to third off the bat of Anthony Brudis gave Centennial the break it needed, as he reached on an error. Billy Brudis, the next batter, hit Holley's first pitch to the fence, and Anthony motored around from first to score. Greg Eller singled to bring home Billy Brudis for an insurance run, and Neidig pitched an easy seventh inning to close out the victory.

"Our pitching and our defense has really been the trademark of this team," Neidig said. "But our hitting has been picking up the last four games or so. We're peaking at just the right time."

Centennial (12-9) has certainly been burdened by its uneven play this season, but the same can just as easily be said of Howard (7-12), which started the season with county-title aspirations, but stumbled more often than it shined.

"We've kind of been one or two hits short all year," said Howard coach Rich Jenkins. "Matt Holley pitched real well for us again, and he's coming back next year so we're excited about that. It could have gone either way for us today, but that's baseball sometimes. We played seven good innings and came up short."

Howard was hurt some this season by a shoulder injury to Mike Burke, its best hitter and pitcher from a season ago. Burke was still tough from the plate, as evidenced by his RBI double in the first inning against the Eagles, but Jenkins kept him out of his rotation late in the season because of stiffness in the shoulder.

Centennial coach Dave Appleby suffered a similar dilemma with Neidig, holding him out for two weeks as a precaution after the senior experienced a little soreness of his own. But Appleby called on Neidig to finish off the Lions, and he did just that, allowing just two hits in the final three innings.

"When you have a pitcher of Neidig's quality, and he's ready and rested, you ride him," Appleby said. "That's the way we're going to use him in the playoffs: bring him in and shut people down."

Centennial now goes on the road to take on Gwynn Park at 4 p.m. Monday.

"We're excited," Appleby said. "In playoff baseball, you simply need to take advantage or your opportunities, and that's what we're doing."

Final stats

With most spring sports teams having completed their regular seasons, The Sun's final statistical leaders package will be published Monday. Coaches or team statisticians should send final regular-season stats via e-mail to patomalleysports@aol.- com or call 410-332-6786 or 1-800-829-8000, ext. 6786. Do not include playoff games. E-mails and calls will be accepted only until 6 p.m. tonight.

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