Ethan Duborow walked off the mound with one out remaining in the seventh inning to make sure his lungs were still in working order.
Century’s starting pitcher needed to retire one more batter to finish off the best game of his baseball career, and the senior knew the significance. Six innings before that, to be honest. That’s when Durborow said he felt as if he had no-hit stuff to go after Winters Mill’s lineup Tuesday afternoon.
Durborow’s 81st pitch met the bat of Slater Seitz, who sent the ball skyward out in front of the plate. Catcher RJ Branch watched it into his open mitt for the final out, and the Knights rejoiced with Dubrorow out by the mound.
A perfect game is quite the way to cap a regular season.
Durborow tossed the gem to lead Century past the Falcons 8-0 on his home field. The right-hander struck out nine and allowed only two balls out of the infield all day. Durborow threw 59 pitches for strikes and induced seven ground outs along the way.
The Falcons were held without a hit, the Knights (7-2) played error free in the field, and Durborow didn’t walk a batter.
Not bad for a kid who missed three weeks during the spring after testing positive for COVID-19.
“I came back ... less than a month ago,” Durborow said. “In the first inning, when I didn’t have any walks or anything, I didn’t feel like I was [throwing] any bad pitches. I was just throwing pretty consistent. It turned out pretty well.”
Century coach Chris Poe said he had an inkling Durborow was in line for a great outing when he saw his senior getting himself acclimated in batting practice before the game. Durborow has had his struggles this year at the plate, Poe said, but Tuesday was different.
“I saw him get in the cage, and he was on his spot,” Poe said. “He was just focused. It was amazing to see. ... He just had a good day.”
Durborow had one of Century’s 11 hits on offense, and he scored a run in the Knights’ six-run fourth inning that broke things open. Conner Breitenbach and Kyle Grimsley each had two-run singles in the frame, and Branch added an RBI as well. Austin Diehl had two singles in the inning.
Meanwhile, Durborow said he did his best to stay away from Winters Mill’s hitters with his pitches. He had command of his fastball, which the Falcons (3-7) couldn’t catch up with. Josh Popielski and Ryan Peacock had the lone fly outs during the game, and Durborow got three others on pop-ups.
That included the final out — Durborow said he didn’t see Seitz’s initial contact and turned his back to the play as Branch sprung from his crouch, tossed his catcher’s mask aside and backpedaled a few steps away from the plate before squeezing his glove around the ball as it fell.
The celebration was lively if not a bit muted as Century waits to see if it can factor into the Carroll County title scenario. The Knights don’t have any more regular-season games on their schedule.
South Carroll finished its regular season Tuesday, but the Cavaliers lost 3-2 to Manchester Valley and fell to 7-3. Liberty is 6-2 with games remaining against Winters Mill (June 3) and Man Valley (June 4) ahead of the regional playoffs that are set to start next week.
The county title is determined by winning percentage, meaning the Knights could have the top record should Liberty lose one of its two remaining games. If the Lions win out, they’d be the champs based on the better winning percentage.
Century relished a rarer achievement Tuesday, however.
“It’s definitely a confidence booster for our team,” Durborow said of his perfect game. “Hopefully we can carry it into the playoffs and win some games.”
Winters Mill 000 000 0 — 0 0 2
Century 001 601 x — 8 11 0
WM-Josh Popielski, James Morley (4) and Peyton Peters; C-Ethan Durborow and RJ Branch. 2B: C-Hunter Rose, Matt Guyer. WP: Durborow. LP: Popielski.