Howard streaks to Division 2 contention

Lions win 9 to join top baseball teams

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May 02, 2007|By Glenn Graham | Glenn Graham,sun reporter

While the Centennial baseball team has a firm hold on Division 1 in the county, the chase for the top spot in Division 2 remains up for grabs, with Howard finding its way into the mix.

The Lions (11-3) went into the week on a nine-game winning streak -- capping last week's 3-0 effort with a key 6-5 win over Reservoir to grab a share of first place in the division. Howard, Reservoir and Atholton all went into the week with 9-3 county records.

Howard coach Rich Jenkins said two familiar sources -- pitching and defense -- have played a big role in the team's success. Senior pitchers Matt Zarin (4-1, 2.45 ERA), Dan Swartz (4-0, 3.25) and Wes Buxton (3-1, 3.50) have thrown strikes all season, and a defense led by shortstop Tyler Curley and second baseman Brian Davila has also kept the Lions in games. Third baseman Tony Prescott is batting .350 with a team-high 18 RBIs.

After seeing an early 5-0 lead vanish against Reservoir on Friday, the Lions persevered when Curley hit a sharp, bases-loaded single up the middle in the 10th inning for the 6-5 win.

Despite the streak, Jenkins is convinced he has not seen the best from his group.

"It's a really nice group of kids, but we still have our differences. I still don't think they get up enough for each game, ..." Jenkins said. "You want your team to get up, and really ... you just want them thinking about baseball and winning games. You don't get many chances at a championship or even a special season, and I think a lot of kids don't realize that until after it's over."

With the county title game set for next Wednesday, Howard travels to Atholton this afternoon in a pivotal game that will go a long way toward deciding which team gets the invitation in Division 2.

Small ball, big success

Little things -- getting down bunts, smart base running, fouling off pitches to keep an at-bat going -- have taken the No. 5 Hammond softball team a long way this season as the team entered the week with a 12-0 mark.

More important, it has been happening because those things have been getting done. The Bears have won four extra-inning, one-run games -- three since April 16 -- including a 3-2 win over Glenelg last Wednesday that typified the team's success.

The Bears will host Centennial at 4 p.m. Friday with a trip to the county championship game likely on the line. Hammond defeated Centennial in the teams' first meeting at Centennial.

glenn.graham@baltsun.com

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