If the Centennial Eagles could hit, they would be dangerous. Thanks to their superb pitching, they are still a team that commands respect.
The Eagles dragged a .240 batting average into yesterday's game at Hammond, and for a change, they produced several timely hits.
Pitcher Dave Hudson took care of the rest. Mixing a sharp curve with a sneaky fastball, Hudson baffled the Golden Bears for seven innings en route to a complete-game one-hitter, as Centennial defeated Hammond, 4-0.
Great pitching is nothing new to Centennial this spring. Hudson's shutout -- the second straight for the Eagles -- lowered the pitching staff's ERA to 1.58. Still, the Eagles (7-3, 7-5) are fighting for the fourth spot in the Class 3A, Region III playoffs and trail Glenelg by two games in the county title race.
"I've been getting some bad breaks this year," said Hudson, who earned his first victory in three decisions. "My arm felt great today, since I've rested it for five days. If we get into the playoffs, our pitching is going to help us go far."
Hudson got some rare help yesterday from his offense, as well as the generous Hammond defense. Catcher Jason Babcock started Centennial's seven-hit attack with a one-out, bases-empty home run off Hammond starter Ross Kaplan (3-1) in the third inning. Later that inning, the Eagles turned a walk and two infield errors into a 2-0 lead.
An RBI single by Daryl Knight in the fifth inning made it 3-0. And in the seventh, Centennial strung together three singles, the last an RBI shot by third baseman Chris Forstner.
Not that Hudson needed all of that assistance. Hammond (7-5, 4-4), which suffered its second straight shutout and appears to be fading after a fast start, was the picture of futility at the plate. The Bears hit only three balls out of the infield, struck out seven times and did nothing with the four walks they drew against Hudson.
Hudson had only one tense moment. After cruising through the first four innings, he suddenly lost command of his pitches and walked the bases loaded with one out in the fifth. But he regrouped to strike out Andrew Jenkins looking at a curve, then induced Joe Brewer to ground out to end the threat.