Two big innings propel Palo Verde past Centennial

Aesop’s fables tell us that slow and steady wins the race.

That certainly didn’t hold true on Centennial’s baseball field Tuesday.

The Bulldogs scored in every inning, but two scoring spurts by Palo Verde proved too much as the Panthers came away with a 15-11 win.

“They scored in every inning. They should have won the ballgame,” Palo Verde coach Paul Churchfield said. “You score 11 runs, you win the ballgame. Our kids battled, though. We had two big innings and they had seven good innings, and that’s what it came down to.”

The Panthers scored six runs in the top of the second to take an early lead. After Centennial came back to take a 9-8 advantage, Palo Verde responded with a seven-run sixth to take the lead for good.

The Panthers (18-7) sent 12 batters to the plate in the sixth, pounding out eight hits. They also were helped by three errors by Centennial (19-10).

“The middle of our lineup came back through, and they’ve been swinging the bat real well the last week or so,” Churchfield said.

No. 3 hitter Christian Centrella and cleanup man Alex Bonczyk led the offensive explosion.

Centrella went 4-for-4 with a triple, two runs and two RBIs. Bonczyk was 4-for-5 with two doubles and two RBIs.

They weren’t alone, as seven of the nine starters had a hit, and six of them had at least two.

“You have to keep battling,” Bonczyk said. “You can’t worry about what they did, you’ve got to keep scoring runs. It worked good for us.”

The win, coupled with a key victory over Arbor View last week, left the Panthers tied with Legacy for second place in the Northwest League at 8-3. Centennial (7-4) is fourth and Arbor View (6-5) fifth with three games to play. The top four teams advance to the postseason.

“Friday’s game against Arbor View I challenged the kids as a must-win game, and I did the same thing today,” Churchfield said. “It’s between us three schools for those two (playoff) spots. It makes it a lot easier if you beat those two teams.”

Dustin Morelli was 3-for-5 with a double, three runs and an RBI, and Dillon Meyer (two runs, two RBIs), Branden Hepworth (two runs, two RBIs) and Dan Jaffe (two runs, one RBI) each added two hits for Palo Verde.

Centennial’s Anthony Consiglio went 2-for-3 with a home run, three runs and two RBIs, and Christian Bernal was 2-for-2 with three RBIs and two runs.

Dominick Monteiro, Matt Triana, Sam Friend and Blane Bevilacqua each added two hits for Centennial.