With a visit to District V champion Reservoir on the line, Atholton and Howard faced off Friday afternoon in the opening round of the 3A East playoffs.
And after winning, 5-0, behind senior Josh Martin's complete game shut out (5 H, 4 K, 0 BB) the Raiders seem to be up to the challenge.
"I think anybody can beat anybody any given day, so hopefully Monday is our day to beat Reservoir," Atholton coach Jon Dupski said. "We've just got to figure out a way to put runs on the board."
In two previous meetings this season, Reservoir has defeated Atholton 1-0 and 2-0 as part of its 20-game winning streak, which includes a 3-1 win over Old Mill in the District V title game on Wednesday.
In Friday's win, Martin faced the minimum nine Lion batters through the first three innings. Adam Galasso reached on an error to lead off the second inning, but the streak was kept alive when catcher Paul Burmester caught him trying to steal second base.
Then, in the top of the third, Atholton got on the board when Martin (single) and Burmester (reached on error) scored on RBIs by Andrew McLellan (sac fly) and Joe Bentz (single).
Those turned out to be more runs that Martin would need, although the Raiders tacked on three more when Austin Feuerman (leadoff walk) scored on an RBI single by Tony D'Asto in the sixth, and Bentz (walk) and Feuerman (double) scored on a pair of errors in the seventh.
"I told them I was proud of them for staying in there, I don't feel like we ever quit in any games," Howard coach Nick Hoffner said. "I wish the seniors the best of luck and I told the juniors 'Remember how this feels. You guys have to still work and get after it and try to get better for next year.' "
Howard threatened in the fourth, when Sean Sivo (bunt single) and Colin Dyer (single, stolen base) advanced into scoring position with one out, but Martin got out of the jam with a strike out and a pop out. Then in the sixth, when they only trailed by three runs, the Lions seemed to be in for a big inning when Sivo and Josh Lee led off with back-to-back singles. After a fly out to right allowed Sivo to take third, though, Martin again got out of trouble when a line drive bounced off of Bentz's glove, allowing the second baseman to pick up the ball, step on second, and fire to first for the inning ending double play.
Finally, Martin came out in the bottom of the seventh and retired the side in order on only ten pitches, sandwiching a strikeout with a pair of ground balls to short.
"I just tried to throw strikes, and that's the name of the game," Martin said. "I talked to our seniors and said 'This could be our last game we play' and that gives you a lot of motivation. Nobody wants the season to end. It gives you a little extra drive in the playoffs to keep going."
A (10-11) 002 001 2 - 5 8 1
Ho (13-8) 000 000 0 - 0 5 6
Martin and Burmester. Wolf, Cain (7) and Kelly.
2B: Feuerman (A).
Marriotts Ridge 10, Oakland Mills 0 (6 inn.)
Junior Eric Brown stepped up his game on Friday for the playoffs, pitching a no-hitter against visiting Oakland Mills in a 2A South first round game.
Brown struck out five without walking a batter. Two Scorpions reached base on errors.
Jake Bender (2B, 2 RBI), Avery Reidy and David Menker (2 2B) each had a pair of hits for the Mustangs. Reidy also drove in three runs, and Ryan Miller drove in two.
Centennial 5, Annapolis 2