Eagles hit finale of Class 3A East

Centennial 6 Severna Park 2

Baseball

High Schools

May 18, 2006|By PAT O'MALLEY | PAT O'MALLEY,SUN REPORTER

Top-ranked, top-seeded and unbeaten Centennial is still all those things after hosting defending state champion Severna Park in Ellicott City yesterday.

The Eagles beat the No. 7 Falcons, 6-2, in the Class 3A East regional semifinals and will host the J.M. Bennett-Northeast winner at 4 p.m. tomorrow in the final.

Junior left-hander Alex Bechta (7-0) was outstanding with his curve, slider, changeup and fastball to go the distance on a five-hitter for the Eagles (22-0).

"I really had good control of my changeup," Bechta said. "I'm glad we got to play the defending state champions."

Bechta, who retired the first nine Falcons, struck out six on 89 pitches.

"Their left-hander gave us fits," said Jim McCandless, coach of the Falcons (17-5).

"He wasn't overpowering, but we couldn't get good at-bats off him. Bechta pitched a great game, and they've got some guys who attack the baseball, are pretty sound defensively and they've got some pitching depth. They're 22-0 for a reason."

Shortstop Scott Swinson doubled twice and scored two runs and second baseman Owen Dresser doubled in a pair in a three-run fifth off Sammy Sheckells. Sheckells replaced Britton Quayle (6-1), the Falcons' starter and losing pitcher.

Third baseman Austin Harclerode, who singled in the Eagles' first run in the first, capped their scoring with a home run to left off Sheckells in the sixth.

"I knew it was a home run right when it left, but I've been in a slump," Harclerode said. "Coach [Denis Ahearn] told me to keep my head on the ball and the first pitch I took my head off the ball and Coach [called a timeout for a conference] gave me a nice little speech and I kept my head there.

"Bechta pitched a tremendous game, the defense was real strong and our hitting got back to full strength."

patomalleysports@aol.com

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