GAMBRILLS — South Carroll's storybook baseball season ran into a buzz saw named Brian McCully last night.
McCully tuned in a strong relief performance to pace Thomas Stone of Charles County to a 9-2 victory over theSouth Carroll High School Cavaliers in the state Class 3A semifinalsat Arundel High here last night.
McCully came on in the third inning with South Carroll threatening to score, and quickly induced Chris Larrick into an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play.
The Cavaliers never mounted a serious threat again all night.
"Their hits fell in, and ours didn't," South Carrollcoach Joe Foltz said. "They definitely got the timely hits."
NickClessuras paced the Cougars on offense with three hits, three runs batted in and three runs scored.
But it was the hurling of McCully,who started the game at third, that made the difference.
He pitched 4 2/3 innings of perfect relief, not allowing a South Carroll baserunner all night.
"We didn't want to start (McCully)," Thomas Stone coach Ed Glaeser said. "We wanted to have a strong closer. He did his job well."
Catcher Joe Goodwin, who, a day earlier had pitchedSouth Carroll to an 8-1 victory over Centennial of Howard County in the Region I title game, put the Cavs ahead in the top of the first yesterday with a home run over the 335-foot sign in left field.
ButThomas Stone responded in the bottom of the inning with three of itsown.
Clessuras doubled in two and Nick Paul singled in Clessuras to put the Cougars ahead, 3-1.
South Carroll responded in the top of the second when Brian Yanick doubled home Charlie Kuykendoll.
But the tying run was thrown out at the plate when Thomas Stone left fielder Matt Lloyd nailed South Carroll's Steve Schulze at home tryingto score from first.
Thomas Stone tacked on two more runs in the third. Clessuras singled and stole second, then scored on a single byBill Fideli.
Fideli then went to second when Goodwin, trying for a pickoff play, threw the ball into right field. Keith Moody sacrificed Fideli to third, then Nick Paul drove in the run with a long fly to center.
Thomas Stone padded the lead some more when Fideli opened the fifth with a single, then went to second when Moody hit into a fielder's choice and scored on a double by Paul.
Paul later stole third, then scored on Ken Hyson's single.
The Cougars added another pair in the bottom of the sixth when Lloyd reached on an error and stole second, then scored on a double by Clessuras. Fideli then addedhis own RBI double.
Goodwin did turn in the defensive gem of the game in that inning, when he made a twisting, diving catch of a high foul pop just behind home plate off the bat of Ron Johnson.
ThomasStone plays Paint Branch, Montgomery County -- which defeated Dundalk of Baltimore County in the other semifinal yesterday -- at 4 p.m. Saturday at McCurdy Field in Frederick.
Foltz, meanwhile, said he was happy with the Cavaliers' 16-5 season, the best since they reachedthe state finals in 1981.
"We had a great season," he said. "Theyhave nothing to be ashamed of."