Baseball: Slugfest for Century in 2A West sectional final

Pat Stoetzer
Contact ReporterCarroll County Times

Century’s baseball players who helped last year’s team win a county championship didn’t like the way things ended, with the Knights bowing out in the sectional final after earning a top seed in the Class 2A West Region.

The returning players from that squad are on a mission to put their mark on the program with a much deeper postseason run, one that ends with a state championship.

Century moved a step closer by putting on an offensive display Tuesday against Winters Mill — the Knights clubbed nine home runs and won 24-3, to advance to the 2A West final.

Century (17-3) won its fourth game in a row, and the county champs have outscored two playoff opponents by a combined 41-5. The Knights will host the regional title game Friday against Walkersville, which beat them 6-5 in a tournament game March 31.

To get to the 2A West final, Century flexed its collective muscle at the plate — Ethan Kiple and Nathanael Hibbs had two homers apiece, with Matt Born, Dylan Breitenbach, Jared Lamb, Jeremy Lapp, and Zach Raico all hitting one out. Born’s was also a grand slam.

Kiple had seven RBIs with a three-run blast and a grand slam; Hibbs had three RBIs and scored four runs.

The Knights scored six runs in the second inning and sent 10 batters to the plate, tacked on six more runs in the third, and posted a nine-run fourth after batting around once more.

“Once one guys gets it, then the next guy keeps going and going,” Hibbs said.

Century took advantage of Winters Mill pitching, which was shaky to start. Trying to find one’s command in the middle of a playoff game is daunting. Add the prospect of the Knights’ homer happy lineup, and things likely become harrowing.

The Falcons (10-8) had to like their start, when Grant Bradt greeted Kiple with a two-run shot to left-center. Century answered, however, when Kiple went deep in nearly the same spot with a three-run bomb.

“I was like, ‘I know our hitting’s good so I know we’re going to get it back,” Kiple said. “I know that our team kind of had my back.”

The senior’s home run ignited the rest of his teammates.

Kiple’s grand slam in the second inning led to a 9-2 Century advantage. The home team led 15-3 after three innings, with homers in the third from Hibbs, Lamb, and Lapp (Lamb and Lapp went back-to-back).

Hibbs added another blast in the fourth, along with Breitenbach, Born, and Raico, and Century never looked back.

“That’s the senior leadership,” said coach Mike Marrale. “They’ve been through it, and a lot of them have been with me since they were sophomores.”

Colton Sparks had two hits and added a solo homer for the Falcons, but they couldn’t keep pace with the home team’s sluggers. Still, they posted a 10-win season and coach Erik Barnes said it’s just the third time in program history a team has finished above .500.

“I’m super proud of the example that our seniors have set,” Barnes said. “I feel like it’s still a work in progress, and we’re getting there.”

Marrale said his veteran bunch is focused on advancing farther than last season, even with high school winding down for the majority of his team and other extra-curricular activities on the calendar.

“I don’t have any ‘Senior-itis,’ so that’s a good thing," the coach said. “They all want it.”

Winters Mill 201 00 — 3 4 1

Century 366 9x — 24 13 2

WM-Connor Peters, Kevin Foster (2), Alex Barnes (3) and Deion Blackburn; C-Ethan Kiple, Jared Lamb (4) and Michael Marrale. 2B: C-Lamb. HR; WM-Grant Bradt, Colton Sparks; C-Nathanael Hibbs 2, Kiple 2, Lamb, Matt Born, Dylan Breitenbach, Jeremy Lapp, Zach Raico. WP: Kiple. LP: Peters.

pat.stoetzer@carrollcountytimes.com

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