Against No. 5 Glenelg yesterday, Centennial's Denny Chapman pitched more like a seasoned senior than a sophomore making his fourth varsity start.
Chapman (3-1), who was called up from the junior varsity midway through the season, allowed one hit, struck out 11 and walked two en route a 5-1 victory.
Glenelg (16-3 overall, 11-2 league) has pounded opposition pitchers for a team batting average of .354, but Chapman had the Gladiators tied in knots.
"He kept us off-balance," Glenelg coach Ed Ashwell said. "He pitched a great game."
Nine of Chapman's 11 strikeouts came against the heart of Glenelg's batting order. He struck out No. 2 batter Steve Dulaney twice, No. 3 batter Mike Deming twice, No. 4 batter Mike Goldberg twice and No. 5 batter Zach Guerra three times.
Goldberg has six home runs and Guerra has five, and each had homered in a 9-3 win over Howard Monday.
The only hit off Chapman came in the third inning when Sean Lookingbill lined a single to right field. Glenelg scored its lone run in the fourth inning on a walk, an error and a wild pitch.
"He threw harder than any of the other pitchers we've seen this year," Lookingbill said. "It was just one of those days for us."
Chapman threw a curve, slider and fastball.
"He struck out most of them on curves," Centennial catcher Jason Babcock said. "He got Goldberg and Guerra swinging at high fastballs trying to jack it out of here."
The Gladiators could have clinched the county title outright with a win. They entered the game with a two-game lead over second-place Atholton, and Friday is the final league game for both teams.
"Now we have to beat Hammond, which has been playing some good ball," Ashwell said. "Friday's game becomes big, because if we can't win this championship outright I'd rather not have it."
Centennial (12-7, 9-4) lost its hope for a share of the county title by losing to Atholton Monday. That loss also essentially ended Centennial's playoff hopes.
"Knowing we were out of the playoffs took a lot of pressure off us today," Chapman said.
His coach, Ron Martin, agreed, "We were relaxed and got the hits when we needed them. This game will certainly be the highlight of our season."
Centennial scored twice in the first inning off Glenelg starter Ben Gugliotta as Brian Dowell had an RBI single and Kevin O'Connor drove in a run with a sacrifice fly.
Chapman had an RBI single in the third inning and Levi an RBI double in the fifth inning. The other run scored on two walks and an error in the second inning.
Levi and Jeff Martin led Centennial with two hits apiece.
Chapman became the second sophomore pitcher to defeat Glenelg this season. Mount Hebron's Brian Picker threw a two-hitter and beat Glenelg, 1-0.
* Atholton 10, Howard 3: Brandon Eierman had the only extra-base hit, a home run, for Atholton in a victory over host Howard. The Raiders had 13 hits.