Yesterday's final game of the Maryland Scholastic Association B Conference best-of-three championship baseball series featured the conference's two best pitchers, so there was little doubt it would be a classic matchup. And it was.
But the ending wasn't classic. It was controversial and it overshadowed an exciting duel between Gilman left-hander Keith Kormanik and Southern right-hander Jerry Fischer, played at Calvert Hall as a neutral site.
Gilman won, 2-1, to capture its second straight championship. But only after Southern's Chris Broseker, who had tripled with two out and scored the tying run on a throwing error by Gilman second baseman Dana Underwood, was ruled out because of the overzealous celebration of his teammates.
Plate umpire Francis Schwartzman ruled that the Southern players, who were celebrating near the third-base line, interferred with Gilman catcher Lou Dimitri as Dimitri tried to catch Kormanik's throw. Kormanik was backing up third when Underwood's throw sailed over third baseman James Sharkey's glove.
"There was offensive interference by the players on the bench," Schwartzman said. "They were in between the ball and the plate."
It appeared Kormanik's throw was not in time to get Broseker, but Dimitri thought otherwise and the umpires agreed.
"There was a guy [in the way]. I had to squirm to get through to get a path to the ball," said Dimitri.
The call left Southern coach Bill Parker stunned, as he lost to Gilman in the championship series for the second straight year.
"We're talking about high school kids being excited," said Parker. "That's a hell of a way to end a championship game."
Fischer struck out 12 and allowed just five hits and three walks. Kormanik bounced back from a poor performance in Game 1, which Southern won, 9-4, to strike out seven and allow just four hits and four walks.
"I was pretty disappointed with myself at Carroll Park [site of Game 1]," said Kormanik. "I had a tough time adjusting to the mound, and I didn't feel I had the pop in my fastball, nor did I feel I had my curveball. That kind of motivated me the last couple of days."
Center fielder Jamal Cox took care of the offense for Gilman. In the fourth he led off with a line-drive home run to center to make it 1-1. In the sixth he doubled to left, went to third on a sacrifice fly by Terry Tabbs and scored on a wild pitch.
Broseker was the only Bulldog to have any success against Kormanik. He was 3-for-3, including a two-out, RBI single in the second to give the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead.
Unassisted double plays in the last two innings helped Kormanik get out trouble. Third baseman Sharkey grabbed a liner by Fischer and doubled Danny Fyffe off at third. In the seventh Kormanik grabbed a line drive bunt by Henry Vaughters and doubled Jimmy Loetz off at first.
Then came Broseker's triple and the controversial ending.
"It's tough for a game like this to end that way," said Gilman coach Marty Melloy. "That will stay in everybody's mind. There were two good pitchers and both teams made some good plays and some questionable plays. That's what should be remembered, not that last play."
Gilman 2, Southern 1
Gilman...... 000... 101... 0... --... 2... 5... 2
Southern.... 010... 000... 0... --... 1... 3... 1
Kormanik and Dimitri; Fischer and Gastiger. HR: G -- Cox. 3B: Broseker. 2B: G -- Kormanik, Cox, Allan