Catcher Pat Kahl would prefer that his bat and glove inspire his Anne Arundel Community College teammates.
Yesterday, it took a gash atop the sophomore's head to light a fire under the Pioneers.
A fifth-inning collision at home plate that jarred the ball loosefrom Kahl had a two-fold effect -- it left the Arundel graduate bleeding profusely from the scalp, and Anne Arundel in a 3-3 tie that onebatter later became a 4-3 deficit.
But the Pioneers' dormant offense erupted for five runs in the seventh inning, and the hosts withstood a last-inning rally to defeat Dundalk Community College, 8-6, in a Maryland JuCo baseball game.
The victory avenged a 4-3 loss to the Lions on March 28 and improved Anne Arundel to 20-7 overall, 14-4 in the JuCo conference. Dundalk fell to 11-13 and 6-8.
Kahl best exemplified Anne Arundel's strong desire to overturn the March loss. He was forced to the bench after butting heads with Dundalk's John Frank, but only stayed seated long enough forthe trainer to stop the bleeding and apply an ice pack to the wound.
Kahl was back on the field for the next pitch, which Sean Downes roped to left for a single that gave Dundalk its first lead, 4-3.
"I've had a few plays like that before and I've usually held on to the ball," he said, bothered more by the dropped throw than the injury.
"The guy hit me good. Everybody was complaining that he took a cheap shot, but he didn't. That's what happens in college. You have to expect it."
Still, the play angered the Pioneers, leading to hostile verbal exchanges with theDundalk players after both benches emptied.
"I think that play atthe plate really gave us a little awakening there," said shortstop Andy Srebroski.
It was Srebroski who returned the lead to Anne Arundel, tripling in two runs in the seventh after Jay Schline was given an intentional walk by Lions' starter Jeremy Benson (4-2). Frank Billings had led off with a walk and advanced to second on Mike Kirkpatrick's sacrifice bunt.
Schline's fourth home run of the season had given Anne Arundel a 1-0 lead in the first. The Chesapeake graduate, who entered the game batting .394, doubled in two more runs in the third and also walked twice.
Srebroski (Northeast) appeared overmatched in his first three at-bats, striking out twice and grounding into a force. He wasn't certain his fourth attempt would prove any more successful.
"I thought it was a pop-out. But when I saw where the fielders were playing, I was like, 'Oh man, they're not going to get tothat,' " he said.
Jerry Nicklow followed with a single to left off reliever Rob Webster that gave the Pioneers a 6-4 lead. A walk to Jim McNally, a double steal and a wild pitch plated the seventh run, and a Kahl suicide-squeeze bunt extended the lead to 8-4.
Dundalk scored two runs in the ninth off freshman Scott Hatfield (4-0), who relieved freshman starter Andy Young in the fifth. Sophomore Rick Forney replaced Hatfield and recorded the final two outs, both on strikeouts.
Forney (Annapolis) has started seven games and relieved in sixothers, totaling 55 innings. "He's our steadiest pitcher, our workhorse," said Anne Arundel pitching coach Larry Schillenberg.
Young (Meade) lasted 4 1/3 innings, giving up four runs and four hits, walking four and striking out three. He also committed a balk and threw a wild pitch.
Hatfield (Glen Burnie) pitched the next four innings and gave up two runs and five hits. He walked one and struck out five.
"Hatfield has done a great job for us in long relief, and we knowForney can come in in short relief and do the job. But we like to make it exciting," said Anne Arundel coach Clayton Jacobson.
Benson,Dundalk's southpaw starter, threw 119 pitches in 6 1/3 innings. He gave up six runs and six hits, walked five and struck out nine.
"Wewere watching their pitch count," Jacobson said. "We figured the kid's going to tire and we'd get him in the sixth, seventh or eighth inning."