Century shuts down LaPlata for first state baseball championship; Raico homers

by AJ Mason

On Century High baseball team’s Twitter feed, they used the hash tag #unfinishedbusiness throughout the 2018 season. The Knights followed that motto and reached their ultimate goal Saturday.

Backed by early offense and stout pitching from seniors Jeremy Lapp and Ethan Kiple, No. 12 Century capped a memorable season with a 4-1 victory over LaPlata from southern Maryland to win the Class 2A state title at Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen.

“Good pitching beats great hitting any day and our pitchers bared down and threw strikes today,” said Century coach Mike Marrale. “That pitching combo has won us a lot of games this year and it feels good to end it with our first-ever state title.”

Century (20-3 overall), which entered Saturday’s state final with 38 homers and averaged 9.6 runs per game, set the tone in the top of the second as senior left fielder Zach Racio hit a two-out three-run home run off of Warriors starting sophomore pitcher Ryan Calvert to give the Knights the 3-0 lead.

In the top of the third, Kiple double to left with two outs and then scored on fielding error by the first baseman to push the Knights lead to 4-0.

La Plata tried to rally in the bottom of the third with two runners on and one out, but David Hayes was caught stealing second on the throw by catcher and younger Michael Marrale.

Lapp, the Knights starter and West Virginia University commit, then struck out Peytyn Gray to end the inning.

Lapp finished with five strikeouts in five innings of work.

“I knew what I could on the mound and I just mixed up my pitches to keep the La Plata batters off balance,” said Lapp.

The Warriors, who were hitless through three innings finally got to Lapp in the fourth as junior Austin Brown crushed a one-out single to right for the team’s first hit and later his courtesy runner Shane Kirby scored on a Hayes single to cut the Knights lead to three runs.

La Plata had its biggest opportunity in the fifth with the bases loaded and one out, but Brown was struck out before Zach Harris flied out to left on a hard hit ball to Raico to end the inning.

Brown, who entered the game leading the Warriors with a .523 batting average, nine home runs and 31 RBIs, managed just to get the one hit and struck out swinging twice to Lapp.

Kiple came in to shut down the Warriors in relief, pitching scoreless frames in the sixth and seventh with three strikeouts to pick up the save for the Knights, who became the first Carroll County program to win a state title since Westminster  (4A) in 2011.

“I’m a team player. I love these guys,” Raico said. “Just killing it for everyone. We all did great. Winning this state title is special.”

Class 2A state baseball championship

at Ripken Stadium

No. 12 Century 4, LaPlata 1

Century 031 000 0 – 4 7 1

La Plata 000 100 0 – 1 3 4

WP Lapp LP Calvert Save Kiple

2B: Century – Hibbs, Kiple

HR: C – Raico