After Winning First Ever Championship, Century Baseball Eyes Further Success
It's been an historic season for the Century baseball team. The Knights are 15-3, including an unblemished 12-0 mark in Carroll County play, which was good enough to earn them their first County championship in program history. It is the program's first championship of any kind.
Despite the big accomplishment, Century has not held a major celebration to commemorate the feat. To head coach Mike Marrale, that's probably because Century has bigger goals for the rest of the season.
"I think our team has been modest about winning the county. Yes, it is the first in school history, but what is the high school baseball season all about? Winning a state championship," Marrale said. "As of May 11, all teams will have a record of no wins and no losses."
With its all-around approach to the game, it looks like Century will be a tough team for opponents to dispatch in the state playoffs.
Starting with its pitching, Century's staff is deep and talented, currently holding a 4.37 ERA. The group is led by a trio of workhorses that have worked hard for the Knights all season.
At the top of the staff is Jeremy Lapp, who has a 6-0 record with 43 strikeouts over 31.2 innings. With a 2.56 ERA, Lapp has been a tricky arm for opponents to solve. He's also limited their batting averages to .144 when he's on the mound.
Filling out the rest of the rotation with Lapp is Ethan Kiple and Rob Martin. Kiple has hurled the most innings for Century at 35.2, and holds a 4.79 ERA. He's gotten the job done routinely for the Knights, which his 5-1 record shows. Martin has eaten up 22.1 innings for Century while holding a 4.03 ERA. He's also recorded the lone save of the season for Century.
Jared Lamb and Brandon Knorr have joined Century in throwing key innings, which couldn't make Marrale happier. To him, the key to high school baseball is pitching.
"Pitching sets the tone, and can beat good hitting any day," Marrale said.
It certainly helps to have good hitting though, which the Knights have in bunches. Century is hitting .375 this season, with Marrale saying the team's ability to square the ball up and hit it hard being the key to its success. Kiple leads the team in average with .517, while Martin has a .473 mark. Michael Marrale, Mike Marrale's son, has a .415 average while Nathaniel Hibbs is hitting .393. Jared Lamb with a .351 average and Dylan Breitenbach at .349 rounds out Century's top hitters for average.
The Knights have also been hitting the ball with power. Century has hit 31 home runs, and the way the power has been spread out is impressive too- nine different players have gone deep this season. Marrale leads the way with eight, while Lapp has six. Kiple and Hibbs each have five.
Century has also been playing very well of late. The Knights beat the defending county champions, Westminster, 22-6 in their most recent game on May 3, and also topped Williamsport, which reached the 2016 MPSSAA 2A state final, 7-3 on May 1.
Despite racking up an impressive number of wins, Century head coach believes the group's three losses have played an extremely critical role in the team's development.
"I learned more about our team from our than losses than any win that we've had," Marrale said. "We saw our weaknesses and fixed them in practice."
Century hopes to suffer no more losses this season as the group is set to embark on a postseason filled with tons of potential.
While the Knights do have big expectations for this year, there's still a sense that this isn't the group's final chance to have a big postseason. Century's roster is dominated by juniors, 11 of them, while only holding three seniors.
That, combined with the season the team is having this year, makes Century's futures as bright as any in the state.
"Our goals and expectations are to win an inning at a time, to continue to improve upon our fundamentals, and continue to just have fun," Marrale said. "We have a wonderful group of young men and it has been a pleasure coaching them."
|May 8th, 2017||By: Wick Eisenberg|