The Centennial baseball team was in a must-win situation yesterday when it visited Atholton, and junior left-hander Ben Winter saw to it that the No. 6 Eagles got that victory, 8-1.
The defending Howard County champion Eagles (8-3) were coming off a 4-3 loss to Reservoir on Tuesday and are expected to face one of the area's top pitchers in Drew Permison of Oakland Mills tomorrow.
Winter, who is 4-0 this season and 9-0 over the past two seasons, pitched a three-hitter with six strikeouts and four walks to stop the Raiders (5-6) and prevent any chance of a three-game losing streak.
"Everybody is gunning for us and every team that has beat us this season has gone crazy just like they won the state championship," said Winter, who lost his shutout in the sixth on Steve Lombardozzi's RBI single.
"We know there is a big target on our backs. I felt we needed a strong performance after yesterday's loss and I came out here with my best."
The Eagles took advantage of three Atholton errors in the second inning to score three runs and then scored in every inning from the fourth through the seventh by doing a lot of first-pitch hitting.
"We have disciplined hitters who see a ball they like to hit and go after it," said coach Denis Ahearn, whose team won its first 22 games last year before losing in the Class 3A East regional final to eventual state champion James M. Bennett.
Austin Harclerode led the Eagles' 11-hit attack with three hits and two RBIs, and Matt Hein (double, triple), Winter and Joey Couch each had two hits.