Hammond is trying to win its first county baseball title, and so farthe Bears (6-2 overall, 2-0 league) are making good progress.
Theteam combined excellent defense, good pitching and two home runs from an unexpected source to turn back Oakland Mills 3-2 Friday at Hammond.
Hammond had opened the league season Wednesday with a 7-6 win at Howard.
Lead-off batter Mike Alverez hit Friday's two home runs, his first ones ever for Hammond. The senior third baseman also singledfor a perfect hitting day.
"I'm not a home-run hitter, I'm a runner," Alverez said. "I've stolen 12 bases this year."
But Hammond coach Bob Maxey wasn't surprised by Alverez's power display. "He bench-presses 250 pounds, so he's pretty strong," Maxey said.
Hammond left-hander Joe Nestor pitched a five-hitter and fanned seven while walking just one and hitting one batter. He improved his record to 3-1.
"My curve and slider were working well, but my fastball was all over the place," Nestor said. "The defense was great and gobbled up everything today."
The Hammond defense played errorless ball for thefourth time in eight games this season, and it made two double plays.
The first, from shortstop Jeff Cyran to second baseman Tom Costell to first baseman Jeff Lavis, ended a one-run, third-inning rally by Oakland Mills.
The second, from Costell to Cyran to Lavis in thesixth featured a 180-degree pivot by Costell.
Oakland Mills took a 1-0 lead in the third inning on a double by center-fielder Travis Williams and an RBI single by catcher Tony Scarzello, who was 2-for-2.
Hammond went ahead 2-1 in the bottom half of the third on an Oakland Mills error and Alverez's first homer -- a line shot to left field.
Oakland Mills tied the game in the fifth inning on a one-out suicide squeeze bunt by Steve Finkill.
"The count was two balls, no strikes, so we knew he (Nestor) had to throw a strike," Oakland Millscoach Joe Shepherd said about the squeeze. "I was a little worried because Finkill had fouled a bunt attempt off his right eye earlier this season, and the cut took 27 stitches, so he's naturally been a little reluctant to bunt since then."
Scorpion second-baseman Matt Donovan led off the fifth with a single, stole second base, went to third on a single by Scarzello and scored on the squeeze.
But in the bottom of the fifth, Alverez hit his game-winning sec
ond home run, a two-out drive to center that just got out.
"I hit a belt-high fastball," Alverez said.
Nestor pitched a strong sixth inning, aided by the double play and a call from the umpire on a fence-clearingdrive by Oakland Mills pitcher Andy Young that barely curved foul.
But the seventh inning was Nestor's strongest. He fanned two of three batters he faced on just three pitches apiece.
"We've averaged eight runs and 10 hits per game this season, and this was the fewest runs we've scored," Maxey said. "We hit theball hard, but Oakland Mills' outfield played well, and their catcher hurt us at the plate even though he was batting eighth in the order."
Oakland Mills, one of the preseason picks to contend for the title, dropped its record to2-3 overall and 0-1 in the league.