While three games in three days could be a daunting challenge for a baseball team early in the spring, Atholton (5-0) has used that scenario this week to showcase its strengths in all facets of the game.
On Tuesday, Raiders senior Michael Slayton pitched a perfect game against Hammond; on Wednesday, the Raiders came back from a 6-2 deficit to defeat Marriotts Ridge, 8-7; and on Thursday afternoon Atholton belted out 13 hits — including six doubles — in a 10-0 rout of visiting River Hill (2-3).
"We knew (Hawks ace Rohan Tilva) was a good pitcher coming in and we just started hitting it," said Atholton third baseman Nick Raulin, who was 4-4 with a double, three RBIs and three runs, including the tenth to end the game. "This week has been crazy. I knew we would never make it through without all of this momentum we've been getting. It's a great group of guys, great arms and no one is injured, so we're lucky."
Raulin credited catcher James Bagley's 11-pitch at-bat — which ultimately resulted in a walk with two outs in the second inning — with priming Atholton's offensive onslaught starting in the third inning.
"James' huge at-bat raised our confidence," Raulin said. "Right after that we all settled in."
Brady Acker (2-4, 2 2B, 2 RBI, 2 R), Michael Slayton (2-4, 2B, 3 RBI), Bagley (1-1, 2B, 2 BB, R) and winning pitcher Dan McCann (2-3, 2B, RBI, 2 R) also contributed to the big showing at the plate.
River Hill put runners on base throughout the game, but never broke through.
The Hawks pushed runners to second in the fourth and fifth, and to third in the second and sixth innings.
Kyle Breitonother roped a leadoff double in the fourth, and Drew Pritchard (2-2, SB) singled to lead off the second and walked to lead off the sixth. But baserunning mistakes, strikeouts and a dearth of clutch hits kept the Hawks off of the scoreboard.
River Hill started four seniors, four juniors and two freshmen on Thursday.
"We're young, but we're not that young," River Hill coach Wes McCoy said. "We're better than what we're showing right now."
Last year, River Hill knocked Atholton — the reigning county champion — out of the playoffs in the regional quarterfinals.
Reservoir — a winner over Glenelg on Thursday — and Atholton remain the last two undefeated teams in Howard County play. They are scheduled to meet at Atholton on April 22.
"We're definitely looking forward to Reservoir. It's always a tight game between us," Raulin said. "They're going to be a great team this year but so are we, so we'll be ready for that."
RH (2-3) 000 000 - 0 4 2
A (5-0) 004 501 - 10 13 2
Tilva, King (3) and Pritchard. McCann, Acker (6) and Bagley.
2B: RH — Breitonother. A — Acker (2), Raulin, Slayton, Bagley, McCann.
Around the league
Centennial 8, Hammond 5