Philip Heleba stepped up to the plate, knowing he needed to put a good swing on the ball.
Andrew Siegwarth stood on third, representing the go-ahead run in the bottom of the sixth inning of a tight game between Centennial and Marriotts Ridge Friday.
With a 1-0 count, Heleba skied a ball to center field. The center fielder caught the ball, as Siegwarth tagged up from the third. The throw was not in time.
The Eagles took a 5-4 lead that held up between two of the top teams in Howard County.
“I knew I had to deliver,” Heleba said. “I saw a pitch where I liked it and got at it.”
Heleba’s RBI capped a two-run sixth inning for Centennial (9-1 overall, 8-1 Howard). The Eagles came into the inning down a run, after Marriotts Ridge scored 4 in the top half to grab the lead.
Carter Watson started the inning with a single. He advanced to second on an errant pickoff throw. Cadeyrn Ahearn singled him home. Siegwarth pinch-ran for Ahearn and advanced to third on a bunt hit and error.
“We really emphasize battling through adversity,” Centennial coach Dennis Ahearn said. “And never giving up, and staying positive. The guys really showed that today.”
The Eagles jumped out to a second inning lead. Cadeyrn Ahearn led the inning off with a double. Cadeyrn Ahearn, Centennial’s starter, was given a courtesy runner in the form of Siegwarth. A walk to Casey Stachera and Zachary Harris reaching on a hit by pitch loaded the bases with two outs.
David Herzberger singled to left to score Siegwarth and Jackson Corrao drove in Stachera and Harris with a single of his own to propel Centennial to an early 3-0 lead.
The game remained 3-0 until the sixth, when the Mustangs (6-3, 5-3 Howard) roared back into the game. Luke Galloway and Jack Coughlin singled to start the Marriotts Ridge rally.
A backdoor pickoff attempt bounced off Galloway and allowed him to reach third. Luke Williams-Abrams knocked him in to score the Mustangs’ first run of the game. Zach Vernick singled to right to knock in Coughlin, and Dennis Ahearn made the move to remove Cadeyrn Ahearn from his starting spot. Caderyn gave 5 shutout innings, but his control gave the Eagles some problems.
“He went out there and pitched and still battled through,” Dennis Ahearn said. “I probably left him out there one batter too long in the end.”
Charlie Wentker came in from the bullpen for the Eagles, and got out of the inning. Before the third out, however, Jared Ober reached on an error, scoring two runs, giving the Mustangs a late lead.
“We had opportunities all game,” Marriotts Ridge coach Paul Eckert said. “We were on him all game.”
Centennial chipped back in their half, and then Wentker came back out to shut the door. He struck out the side in between two Marriotts Ridge singles to end the game.
“I knew Coach had trust in me,” Wentker said. “I knew I was going to be put in this situation especially against a good team in the county.”
NO. 14 CENTENNIAL 5, NO. 11 MARRIOTTS RIDGE 4
Marriotts Ridge 0 0 0 0 0 4 0 — 4 8 3
Centennial 0 3 0 0 0 2 — 5 8 5
WP - Charlie Wentker. LP - L Obitz. 2B: Centennial - Cadeyrn Ahearn. Marriotts Ridge - Luke Williams-Abrams. RBI: Centennial - David Herzberger, Jackson Corrao 2, Caderyn Ahearn, Philip Heleba. Marriotts Ridge - Luke Williams-Abrams, Zach Vernick.