The unbeaten Centennial baseball team needed seven innings for a win for the first time this season yesterday. The pitching of Glenelg sophomore Hunter Kitchens was the reason, but in the end the Eagles prevailed, 4-3.
No. 7 Centennial (5-0) had won its first four games in contests that were shortened to five innings because of the mercy rule.
Yesterday, the Eagles scored all of their runs in the bottom of the sixth for the Howard County league win over No. 15 Glenelg (2-2).
Kitchens, who was second-team All-County last year as a freshman after going 5-3, tired in the sixth. A single by Jake Anderson in the third and Kitchens' double in the sixth had given the Gladiators a 2-0 lead.
"Our guys feel good about their hitting, no matter who they're facing and no matter what the score," said Denis Ahearn, the fourth-year coach whose Eagles had run themselves out of the two previous innings.
"Our bench can be a factor keeping us in the game."
Centennial senior Scott Swinson, who will pitch at George Washington next year, appeared to be headed for a loss in his first start of the season.
Swinson threw 69 pitches through five innings before giving way to left-hander Ben Winter who worked the final two innings and got his second win. Winter, who gave up a run in each inning, ended the game by striking out the last batter with runners on first and second.
Kitchens took a one-hitter with four strikeouts and two walks into the sixth. Winter and catcher Ryan Miller started the inning with singles and Swinson followed with a triple to deep right-center to score both and tie the game.
Alex Bechta reached on an error with Swinson holding and Glenelg coach Tom Thrasher removed Kitchens after 77 pitches. A sacrifice fly by Matt Hein and a fielder's choice by Joey Couch off reliever Austin Tolson produced two more runs and a 4-2 Centennial lead.
"My arm was getting stiff and I just lost it," said Kitchens, who was throwing more than 45 pitches for the first time this season.
"I didn't think I could help my team anymore."