Friday's Northeast/Severna Park baseball game was supposed to be a home-run derby -- and it was -- but not the kind most Falcons' fans would have liked.
It was a lopsided, 15-1 affair for visiting Northeast -- reminiscent of last year's 16-1 blow-out of the Falcons -- in which the 17-0 Eagles hammered out 12 hits and five home runs.
Northeast third-baseman Don Shump, who entered the game slugging .475 with 23 RBI, hit three of those homers. He sandwiched three-run shots in the second and seventh innings around a fourth-inning, two-run shot for eight RBI on the day.
Another homer came from center-fielder Derek Dolch (1-for-4), whose fourth-inning solo shot made the score 10-1.
But perhaps the most telling homer was the first one.
It came off the bat of Eagles' lead-off hitter Craig Everett, the game's winning pitcher, who nailed the second pitch from Severna Parkhurler Steve Foreman far into the center-field trees.
"I usually take the first pitch and let the pitcher get a ball on me," said the 6-foot-1, 165-pounder, who was 3-for-4 with a walk and three RBI. Everett (.463, 21 RBI) almost hit for the cycle, but missed getting a triple.
Everett went the distance on the mound, throwing 78 pitches and scattering five hits with three strikeouts and no walks to improved his record to 6-0.
Foreman, who lost for the first time in six starts, left trailing, 10-1, after five innings. He had thrown 112 pitches with five walks, six strikeouts and eight hits.
Reliever Glen Shiring gave up five runs and four hits, including back-to-back RBIdoubles by Chad O'Brien and Everett as well as Shump's third homer, all in the seventh inning.
"Funny things were going through my head because the last time we had four home runs in a game was against Annapolis down there in 1980, and we lost the ballgame," said Northeast coach Harry Lentz, in his 24th season.
With Everett on the mound, however, there was no chance of a Severna Park comeback.
Falconscoach Jim Pitt would have liked to see his pitcher/shortstop Rob McCandless (4-1, 3.53 ERA) come a little closer to the county batting average record of .554, now held by Old Mill's Lou Holcomb. However, McCandless, who entered the game hitting .578 with 25 RBI and three homers, went 1-for-3 with a single.
The Falcons entered the game witha squadron of heavy hitters in center-fielder Steve Neuberger (.465,17 RBI, two homers), left-fielder Mark Budzinski (.452, 23 RBI, fourhomers), third-baseman John Milisitz (.364, 19 RBI, four homers), right-fielder John Novak (.349, 11 RBI, three homers) and catcher Wes Zimmerman (.324, 17 RBI, three homers).
Between them, however, theywent a combined 1-for-15.
"I think the scouting report we had on them hitting-wise was good. We wanted to mix up the curve balls with Craig, which is one of the reasons we threw Craig today," said Lentz of Everett, who is part of an unbeaten pitching staff whose ace is Charlie Buckheit (7-0, 2.17 ERA).
"Charlie throws hard, and we were afraid that his fastball would go out of here kind of quick if they could jump on it. But we knew Craig had a real good deuce and keeps them off balance; we knew some of their better hitters like McCandless and (Wally Pisarski) would have trouble with it."
The Eagles' defense was equally stingy, giving up its only run in the bottom of the first inning when Budzinski's sacrifice fly scored Novak.
The Eagles turned two double plays. In the third, second baseman K. C. Murphy caught a Novak pop-up and his relay to first-baseman Russell Curry nabbed Mike Stegall. Shortstop Joey Curry began a 6-4-3 play in the fifth.
In addition, McCandless was left stranded on third base in thebottom of the seventh. He had reached on a single, taken second on aShump overthrow to first and taken third on a John Milisitz single. But he watched two teammates fly out and a third get put out at first.
"In the newspaper the other day (Prophet Pat) said that they were going to out-homer us and that they were the better team," said Shump, whose squad virtually has sewn up the top seed in Class 2A RegionIII. "It got us pumped up, but we really tried not to pay any attention to it."
The Falcons had a slim lead over second-place Arundel and third-place Old Mill in the 4A Region IV standings with games remaining against Glen Burnie, North County and Meade. Pitt still expects his club to reach the playoffs for the first time in three years, having clinched the Bay Division title with an 8-0 record (12-3 overall).
The Falcons spent the last few weeks improving defensively, soPitt elected to go with Foreman rather than McCandless.
"Our defense is a little bit weaker when we put Rob on the mound," said Pitt. "In the last week to a week and a half we've been dedicating about three-fourths of our practices to defense. It's coming along, and we'reonly averaging about one or two errors a game."
But it was the pure hitting of the Eagles that helped them build a 3-1 first-inning lead and increase it to 7-1 after two innings.