The Columbia Reds No. 1 ended a six-game league losing streak by beating Pikesville, 2-1, at Atholton High School Thursday evening.
Pitcher Jason Mills pitched a three-hitter, and Brian Van Deusen hit a game-winning two-run double in the bottom of the sixth to give the Reds all the runs they needed.
"I was starting to get a little nervous thinking that we weren't going to score," Mills said.
Van Deusen's clutch double was set upby leadoff walks to Chris Dodson and Matt Donovan, who scored off the hit sliced into the right-center field gap.
"It was my biggest hit of the year," said Van Deusen, who is batting .320. "I got a fastball down the middle and hit it pretty good."
For Van Deusen, it was his second double of the game. He hit a two-out double in the second inning that Pikesville left fielder Joe Friedman lost in the sun.
On that play, Donovan, who had singled ahead of Van Deusen, had to stop at third base when Van Deusen's hit bounced over the fence. Theywere both stranded when third baseman Joe Ryan caught Travis Williams' line drive.
Columbia's only other hits were a two-out single byWilliams in the fourth inning and a leadoff single by Brian Schroeder in the first inning.
Mills, who will be a sophomore at East Carolina University, played high school ball at Atholton. He struck out nine and walked four.
Pikesville already had beaten Columbia twice this season. But both times the Reds were short-handed because players were either attending their graduations or vacationing at Ocean City.
Pikesville got its only run in the fourth inning when it loadedthe bases with one out and scored on an infield ground out by Elliott Blank.
Pikesville starting pitcher Marshall Robers, who had beaten the Reds earlier this year, lasted 4 1/3 innings and allowed no runs and three hits before Adrian Price relieved him.
Price, a tall,muscular right-hander who throws hard, gave up the winning runs.
"Price pitched in relief Tuesday against Reisterstown and struck out eight batters in a row," Pikesville manager Richard Dopkin said.
He was less effective Thursday, however, walking three and striking out only one in 1 2/3 innings.
Mills found his slider to be his mosteffective pitch against Pikesville.
"That was the pitch I threw when I needed a strike," said Mills (4-2). He also threw a split-fingered fastball and a curve to go with his regular fastball.
"I had my best stuff of the season tonight and the defense played well," he said.
The Reds made only one error.
Columbia returned Monday from a six-day trip to Denver, Colo., in which the Reds won one game andlost three in the Cherry Creek Classic, a 16-team tournament.
Mills struggled in his first start in Denver, but relieved the next day and pitched nine innings of one-run, one-hit ball.
"It was out there that my catcher (Bobby Caswell) discovered that the slider was my most effective breaking ball," Mills said.
Caswell had a hot Denver trip, going 10-for-16 at bat and making the All-Tournament team.
Counting the four games in Denver, the Reds entered Thursday's game having lost nine of their last 10 games.
With Thursday's victory, Columbia improved its Baltimore Metro League record to 11-9. That puts it in fourth place behind the Beduoins, Liberty Road and Putty Hill.
"We haven't been hitting the ball well enough," Reds manager Larry Thompson said. "We've had great defense and pretty good pitching."
Pikesville dropped to 10-10 in its first season in the league.