Chesapeake softball coach Dennis Thiele may not want to be outdoors during an electrical storm any time soon.
After all, how many times does a softball team as good as his Cougars miss an opportunity to score with runners on second and third with no outs?
How many times does star outfielder/pitcher Amy Jakubowski go hitless for an entire game? And how often does Chesapeake come out on the losing end of two straight games?
The answer to all three of these questions: not many.
But, in yesterday's county 4A battle, hostGlen Burnie nipped the defending state title-holders, 1-0, its second win over a state champion (along with a 4-3 win over 2A titlists Northeast last Thursday) within a week.
"(From now on) every game wewin is big. We have another big game tomorrow (Annapolis) that's worth eight points just like this one was," said Gophers head coach Bob Broccolino. "But this game today was big for us. It's the second gamein a row where we've beaten a team that beat us earlier in the year."
The Gophers (7-2 overall, 5-2 league) were blanked, 3-0, by Chesapeake (9-3, 4-2 league) in their season opener on March 26. On Wednesday, Broccolino's charges ambushed North County, 4-0, avenging an 5-3 loss on April 6.
Against Chesapeake yesterday, Lee Mallonee broke the scoreless deadlock in the bottom of the fifth inning. She scooted home on a wild pitch from losing pitcher Stacy Matcuk (2-1), who allowed five hits on the day.
Earlier in the pivotal inning, the junior catcher smacked a single to right center field. After stealing second, winning pitcher Mandy Albrecht (7-2, 1-for-1 from the plate) moved her to third with a perfect bunt.
"Mandy didn't get a single strikeout, but she kept the ball down. She also played superb defense. Everything hit back up the middle was hers. She's also starting to come around with her hitting, too," said Broccolino.
While the senior hurler allowed only three hits, she found herself
in a jam in the top half of the fifth.
After an errant throw by Heather Smith allowed Matcuk to take second, Albrecht walked Tracy Starke. With a 0-2 count on Kristen Spak, Mallonee allowed a passed ball, moving the runners to second and third. Albrecht then got three consecutive pop-outs from Spak, Stacey Necessary (suicide squeeze attempt) and Becky Thiele to end the Cougar threat.
"Stacey's stats aren't as high asI would like for them to be for a leadoff hitter. Right now, she's struggling at the plate, but she's normally a reliable bunter," said Coach Thiele. "And if I get runners on second and third with less thantwo outs, I'll use the bunt. It works 99 percent of the time for me,and it's been a bread-and-butter play on our team for years."
In the bottom of the second, Glen Burnie missed a chance to grab an early lead on a controversial play. With Mallonee on second after a Natalie Black throwing error, Albrecht crunched a single to left field. AsMallonee started for third, she inadvertently was blocked by Cougarsshortstop Jaime Long.
When Mallonee recovered, Spak had made a throw home to Necessary. Broccolino protested that Mallonee would have been safe at the plate had she not been held up.
"The umpire ruledthat even if she hadn't been obstructed, she wouldn't have made it anyway, and I disagreed with him," said Broccolino. "It was his decision, and he obviously wasn't going to change it. He made the call, andwe had to stand by it."