In a repeat matchup of two potential pro pitchers, a rested Chris Russ of Atholton bested a tired Denny Chapman of Centennial yesterday, 7-1.
The must-win victory pulled second-place Atholton (12-4 overall, 11-3 league) within a game of Centennial (13-3, 12-2) in a five-team county championship race. No. 16 Atholton and No. 8 Centennial each have four games remaining.
Russ pitched a four-hitter, struck out six, walked one and hit one batter in a masterful effort before the approving watch of his future college coach, Towson State's Mike Gottlieb.
"He's going to be a major-leaguer someday," Gottlieb said of Russ.
Few teams are happy to see the hard-throwing Chapman take the mound against them because he is being hotly pursued by pro scouts, has accepted a scholarship to Virginia and throws in the 85-90 mph range.
But Atholton had a couple of good reasons that they were hoping Chapman would pitch yesterday.
One was that Chapman had beaten Atholton and Russ earlier this season with a nine-inning, complete-game effort, 3-2, and the Raiders wanted revenge. And the other was that the Raiders knew Chapman wouldn't be at his best after pitching five innings Friday.
"Off two days' rest I was surprised to see him pitch," Russ said. "Even though this was a big game. I don't think he had his gas today, and he tired much earlier than the last time."
Russ had not pitched since last Wednesday, however, and the rest showed.
"This was the best I've seen him [Russ] pitch all season," Atholton catcher Chris Madiou said. "He was hitting his spots, his curve and slider were breaking nice and his changeup was on today."
In contrast, Chapman (7-2) struggled with his control, walking four and throwing four wild pitches in five innings. He allowed only three hits but six runs.
"I thought I could do it, but after the first two or three innings you could tell I was pitching on two days' rest," Chapman said. "If I pitch a good game we knock them out of the race. But we're still a game up and control our destiny."
Sean Williams' triple started a three-run Atholton third inning that featured a sacrifice fly RBI by Wade Zancan, an RBI single by Corey Cannell and two wild pitches by Chapman that allowed a run to score.
A sacrifice fly RBI by Williams and an RBI single by Russ accounted for two more Atholton runs in the fifth inning. And Ryan Schulz hit an RBI single in the sixth inning.
Pub Date: 4/29/97