Zach Collins used to vent his anger with his fists. Now, as a juniorat Arundel, he has that anger under control and fights only opposingbatters.
Old Mill knows full well how hard the left-hander fights. He beat the visiting Patriots a second straight time yesterday, 7-0, in the Class 4A Region IV championship game, completing a three-game sweep by the Wildcats.
Collins' three-hit shutout, featuring seven strikeouts and four walks, propelled coach Bernie Walter's Wildcats into the State Final Four for the first time since 1987, when Arundel won the state championship.
Arundel will play at 7 tonight at Joe Cannon Stadium in Harmans, against the winner of last night's Walt Whitman-Gaithersburg contest. In the other semifinal, at 4 p.m., defending state champion Perry Hall will play Oxon Hill.
Collins was brilliant yesterday, posting his seventh win of the year against only one loss for the 18-4 region champions.
Matching Old Mill's Doug Stockman, another lefty,through three scoreless innings, Collins' mates came through in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings.
Jason Radford's two-out line single to right plated Eric Hontz with the first run in the fourth. The Cats added three runs in each of the next two frames.
Third-basemanChris Durocher's RBI double was the only hit of the three-run fifth,as Stockman was victimized by an infield error and perfectly executed double steal.
The Cats iced it with three runs on four hits -- including an RBI double by shortstop Scott Young -- in the last of thesixth.
Collins wasn't around long the first time he faced Old Mill. The Pats KO'd him with six hits and eight runs in just an inning and a third back on April 8 at Old Mill, but Arundel came back to win by 11-8.
Under the lights on May 8 at Arundel, Collins scattered six hits in a 7-2 victory, dealing Old Mill southpaw Jimmy Simms his first loss of the season after six wins.
"I couldn't play here (Arundel) last year because I got into a scuffle and got suspended," Collins said after the game. "But I've changed and straightened myself out so I could play here.
"Mr. Walter has helped me a lot, as a player and as a person. I don't fight anymore, like I used to when I lived in Bowie and was a street fighter. Mr. Walter has showed me how to do things the right way. I had a lot of problems between ages 15 to 17, but now I 've matured, and I've matured a lot, doing good in school and on the field."
Collins displayed his newfound discipline in the top of the sixth, with the Wildcats leading, 4-0. Someone not under control certainly would have wilted under the pressure of facing the heart of the hard-hitting Pats' order -- especially after the first two men reached base to start the inning.
Lead-off hitter William Beverly coaxed a walk to snap of string of four straight batters ina row and nine of the last 10 set down by Collins. Second-baseman Mike Nappier singled to center and suddenly the Pats had come alive.
Collins got the dangerous Eric Scott to pop to shortstop Young, struck out cleanup hitter Bill Bussey -- the third straight time Collins had punched out Bussey, as good a hitter as there is in the county --and got Simms to ground out.
In the top of the seventh, the Patriots' No. 6 hitter, Dackren Coleman, singled to center and went to second on a passed ball. Designated hitter Jason Cox followed with a walk.
But with a commanding 7-0 lead, Collins knew all he had to do was throw strikes and force Old Mill to hit the ball. After getting impressive sophomore outfielder Lee Haney to hit into a fielder's choice, Collins induced Brian Jones to foul out to first-baseman Shawn Crews and set down Beverly on a high hard one that tailed away from the right-handed hitter.
"Zach was outstanding, and I think he's goingto be a pro one day," said Walter. "He's got tremendous stuff, throws hard and his ball runs for him. He has a good curve, and the biggest thing is he can keep it in the 80s and (paces himself). He threw some gas today at times and he's much more a pitcher than most high school pitchers."
Walter says Collins can throw about 85 mph "when hegets it going," and that is what pro scouts look for on their radar guns.
Milwaukee Brewers' Regional Scouting Supervisor Walter Youse, who probably has signed more pitchers than any scout in the United States over his 40-year scouting career, said he was impressed with Collins and the Arundel ball club.
Walter is not predicting any state championships, but is confident. "This is is a complete ball club," he said. "This team doesn't have good speed, yet they broke the school record for stolen bases (with 133; the old record was 130), eightof nine starters are batting over .300, we need one more double playto set a state record (which now stands at 20) and we have five guyswho can pitch and win."
Jeff Beard (9-1), a senior right-hander who beat LaPlata, 10-3, in the region semis, goes today.