STORY BY CHRIS LEE | PHOTO BY CARL EDMONDSON, JR.
A big hit from third baseman Solomon Washington, a complete game from starting pitcher Bryson Sweeney and a huge defensive play all loomed large in Centennial’s 3-2 win over Ravenwood at Centennial High School on Monday night.
Washington hit a two-run double and later scored in a three-run sixth, and also took part in a defensive play that may have decided the game. Meanwhile, Sweeney struck out six Raptors and added a run-scoring single.
It ruined a good night from Ravenwood right-hander Shane Craig, who struck out 11 Cougars in his six innings of work.
“I don’t think I had the juice on my fastball like I usually do, but my slider felt good tonight,” Craig said.
Sweeney did the one thing that Craig didn’t: avoided a big inning. Ravenwood scored single runs in the fifth and sixth, each time plating the leadoff runner.
“I feel like I located [my fastball] pretty [well], got ahead of it, and that was able to set me up with my curve ball, and that worked pretty [well,]” Sweeney said, after ending the night around the 95-pitch mark.
“I’m really proud of the way he pitched today. He came out last week against Summit and he really wasn’t himself,” Centennial coach Rob Baughman said. “I think he really needed this, a big confidence boost through the end of the year. He pitched fantastic.”
Craig was brilliant the first two innings, retiring Centennial in order each time with 10 pitches and two strikeouts in each inning.
But Centennial second baseman Cole Miller reached on an error to lead off the third, and center fielder Mikey Medvid walked with two outs. Washington ripped a triple to deep left, then, Sweeney’s check-swing single got through the right side of the infield for a third run.
“It was an important moment in the game, so I had to step up,” Washington said.
The Raptors got their first a run on a bizarre play in the fifth.
With two outs, left fielder Nick Baum on second, and second baseman Ben Severance on first, center fielder Brian Garcia singled to left. The throw from the outfield went to Washington at third, who gunned Severance out at home.
Garcia was about to round second when Washington got the ball. He then tried to get third when the ball went home. But catcher Jack Baughman tagged Garcia for an out, then alertly threw back to Washington, who applied the tag on Garcia to get Centennial out of the inning.
“First of all, I don’t know how Jack caught it, coming from Solomon,” Rob Baughman said “I don’t know how he caught it. But if you watched him on the tag, he did everything perfect, and then came up with a strong throw. … It was impressive. I was proud of our kids tonight.”
Ravenwood right fielder Lawson Evans walked in the sixth and then later scored in the sixth. The Raptors threatened for more, loading the bases with two outs, but Sweeney struck out Severance looking to end the inning.
Craig, a junior right-hander who’s started to pick up some mid-major baseball offers, threw a good fastball well into the 80s that showed some arm-side run. But it was his slider, which he located consistently to both edges of the plate, was probably his best pitch on Monday.
“I’m very proud of Shane and the way he attacked, and his slider was very good tonight, “Ravenwood coach Danny Borne said.
“Just from talking to other coaches, he hides the ball really well,” Borne continued later. “It’s hard for them to pick up, and his arm action is really short, similar to an infielder’s arm action. And that slider’s hard to attack, because his fastball runs inside on hitters, and his breaking ball runs away, and it’s coming out of that same tunnel, so it’s hard to pick up. It’s going to go right or left, and it’s hard for those hitters to determine which way it’s going to go sometimes.”
In addition to his hand in the big play in the fifth, Jack Baughman threw out a pair of would-be Raptor base-stealers at second.