Two junior pitchers with contrasting styles, left-hander Alex Bechta and right-hander Austin Harclerode, led top-ranked Centennial to its 17th consecutive win yesterday, 4-1, at No. 15 River Hill.
Bechta started for the Eagles (17-0 overall, 13-0 Howard County) and pitched two outs into the sixth inning for his sixth win using a lot of off-speed stuff. Harclerode came on throwing fastballs to get the last four outs, three via strikeout, for his first save.
The duo stranded nine Hawks over the last four innings with the only run coming in the bottom of the fourth on a wild pitch by Bechta with two outs. He got the last out with the bases loaded.
"They are a solid team from top to bottom, have good pitching and play good defense," River Hill coach Rick Lloyd said.
Centennial staked Bechta to a 4-0 lead after three innings off the Hawks' John Blasher, a sophomore right-hander who was recently called up from junior varsity.
Blasher, who is a junk pitcher with a decent knuckleball, settled down and kept River Hill (9-6, 9-4) in the game, going 6 1/3 innings, yielding six hits, with no strikeouts and two walks.
Bechta, Owen Dresser and catcher Ryan Miller (3-for-4) all doubled and scored in each of the first three innings.
Matt Hein's single drove in Scott Swinson with a second run in the third to make it 4-0 and the support carried Bechta into the sixth.
"My legs got a little tired, but my arm was fine," said Bechta, who gave up six hits, walked two and struck out two.
Harclerode blew away the first batter he faced on a fastball for a called strike three with two outs and runners on first and second in the sixth. He gave up a walk and a single to Austin Drewyer (2-for-4) with one out in the seventh before freezing the last two batters on called strike threes.
"The last time I pitched in a game was a couple weeks ago, but this was a great feeling to come in after Alex pitched a great game for us," Harclerode said.