Century’s baseball players see it every time they step onto their field, whether it’s a practice or a game.
The Knights need only look to their scoreboard in right field, which is adorned with a sign commemorating last year’s Class 2A state championship, as a reminder of what was — and what they’re going after again.
The green sign lists each player and coach from the state title team, a group that used the phrase “Unfinished Business” to fuel it in 2018. The placard just below the scoreboard now says “Finished Business,” honoring a Century squad that won 20 games and captured the state crown in late May at Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen. And this year’s Knights get to see it all the time.
“It motivates us, that sign right there,” senior pitcher Jared Lamb said after helping Century top Westminster 15-3 on Saturday afternoon. “Hopefully [in May] … we can get a streak going in the playoffs and we can make a run.”
The Knights (10-4, 8-2 in the Carroll County Athletic League) flexed their offensive muscles in beating the Owls and moving one step closer to winning a third straight county championship. Being CCAL champs is one thing, but the players don’t seem satisfied with stopping there.
In 2017, the Knights felt they had a state title-caliber team but fell short in the regional playoffs, hence the “Unfinished Business” motto the following spring. Century returned a wealth of talent and showcased it throughout the season, which culminated in its state crown.
Eight key contributors graduated, however, including four Times first-team all-county picks and the reigning Player of the Year. But the Knights brought back their share of players, too, and have mixed in some newcomers to put together another solid unit.
“We’re starting to get hot right now,” said Matt Born, another senior who played on the state championship team. “We’ll see where it takes us.”
Last year’s team had a lethal combination of strong pitching and a potent offense. Former Knights pitchers Jeremy Lapp, Ethan Kiple, and Tyler Roach combined to go 17-0 in 2018.
Century lost a stable of arms, but Lamb and Born recently combined for a no-hitter against South Carroll. Lamb and junior Bradley Comer have assumed the top spots in the Knights’ rotation — both of them have two wins, and Lamb tossed four innings Saturday against the Owls with seven strikeouts.
Born led the team with 17 RBIs before posting five against Westminster, and fellow senior Brandon Will drove in five as well. Both players smacked a pair of home runs in the victory (Born has five this spring, Will has four). Lamb’s .588 batting average before the weekend was tops on the team.
Chris Poe sees the sign too. The first-year coach took over when Mike Marrale stepped down after last season, but being an assistant for several years helped with any transition issues. Poe knew he’d be losing cogs from the 2018 team — Lapp, Kiple, Roach, catcher Michael Marrale, and shortstop Nathanael Hibbs, the POY, among others — but felt confident this year’s bunch would compete.