A pensive Johnny Williams stood on the North County baseball diamondafter hurling his Broadneck squad to a three-hit, complete-game 5-1 victory over the Knights yesterday.
The win was especially refreshing after his last appearance on the mound three games back, when theBruins blew an early 2-1 lead before losing, 8-4, to unbeaten Northeast.
"It seems like it's been forever since my last win," said Williams, who in 88 pitches struck out four batters with a walk to improve to 2-3 with the Bruins' third straight win. "I haven't had the year that I had expected."
Williams' sentiments captured the season in microcosm. It's been a season in which the Bruins have shown championship form in some games while falling just short in others -- hence their 5-5 record against county 4A teams (9-7 overall).
Since losing to Northeast, however, Broadneck coach Mark Stover said his players have been playing "their best baseball of the season."
In defeatingSouth River, 11-2, Monday, the Bruins got a four-hit complete game from Matt Weimer, who struck out nine and walked two.
Tuesday, it was Jeff Vincent (eight strikeouts, three hits), who hurled for no walks and offensively was 2-for-3 to improve his record to 4-1.
"We're on a good roll right now, and Jeff and Matt have done more than expected," said Williams, who also scored on a fourth-inning passed ballfor the Bruins' final run.
"I was having some trouble with my curveball today and wasn't able to get it over. But Sean Tettemer alwayscalls a good game. He's very smart, works me in and out, and he's basically the reason I go. I didn't want to lose the team's momentum byletting down any."
Vincent (2-for-3 with a walk) nailed a two-out, fourth-inning RBI single to give the Bruins a 4-1 lead.
The Bruins (4-3 against the Bay Division) next turn their attention to Friday's game against struggling Southern. They have two critical games next week againstMeade and Glen Burnie -- whose playoffs hopes are in ascritical condition as those of the Bruins. Broadneck plays Friendship Division leader Arundel a week from Friday in its season finale.
"We've been getting good pitching and playing real good baseball forthe last five or six games," said Stover, whose Bruins are in secondplace behind Bay Division champion Severna Park (8-0).
"I don't think we were as intense today as we have been, but we did get a good pitching performance out of Johnny, which I think helped us out. I'm striving for us to play intensely and play well every game and let all the rest fall where it may."
The Bruins' No. 5 batter, Larry Krzyzaniak, set the tempo in the first inning, nailing a bases-loaded shot to left-center to give his squad the 3-0 lead. The play came shortly after North County's Jon Finan walked his second batter of the inning to load the bases.
Krzyzaniak was tagged for the second out while trying to take third, but the inning established the game's outcome.
Finan gave up eight walks and six hits with three strikeouts. He left the game with one out in the fifth while trailing, 5-1, and after throwing 109 pitches and walking the bases loaded the third time.
Third baseman T. J. Hall replaced Finan, striking out Williams and inducing Jamie Schneider to hit into a fielder's choice. Hall finished with three each in walks and strikeouts.
North County left-fielder John Bilheimer roped a second-inning RBI single down the third-base line to account for the Knights' only run.
North County left a runner stranded on second in the first inning, and another on thirdin the second.
"This is only Finan's second start, and I thought he pitched real well. But I thought he got discouraged on some of theclose calls," said North County coach Don Usewick, whose Knights (6-9, 2-7) were thrashed, 9-1, by Friendship Division rival Arundel on Monday.
The Knights are in last place in the Friendship Division, with a 2-6 record.
"It looks like it's going to be a battle with four or five teams for that last playoff spot," Usewick said. "Every loss now is a big setback."