In the second annual Maryland Semi-Professional Baseball League All-Star Game, the Northern Division defeated its Southern hosts, 6-4, ona cloudy and cool Independence Day at Harford Community College's Thomas Run Park.
Dave Brennan, the fourth pitcher deployed by North coach Johnny Hughes, pitched a scoreless fifth inning to gain credit for the win. Jay Witasick, who plays for Crouse Construction, stymiedthe South's final rally in the ninth to pick up the save.
The North, which brought about 30 players, used eight pitchers inthe game. "We got 'em all in," said Hughes, who has coached Crouse Construction to an impressive 33-3 record this year.
By contrast, South coach George Cooper of the 22-14 Parkville Royals brought only five pitchers, as well as two players for each position.
"My theoryis bring two full teams and everybody gets to play half a game," Cooper said.
The North got out of the box quickly against South starter Rob Ritter of Overlea. Dave Hughes of Crouse Construction singled and promptly stole second. After Ritter struck out Tom Schmidt, also of Crouse and the league leader in batting, Ron Maranto of Aberdeen drove a double to left-center for the first run.
The South responded in its half of the first. Leadoff hitter Ron Ze
berlein of the Essex Brewers walked and stole second. After a wild pitch moved him tothird, Zeberlein scored on a grounder to second by Mike Weglein of the Royals.
Meanwhile, Ritter, struggling to find the form that hadhelped him post a 6-2 record with a 1.92 ERA this year, got into more trouble in the third, although not entirely of his own doing.
After surrendering singles to Schmidt and Maranto, he fell victim to two unfortunate infield miscues and his own errant pickoff throw as well. When the dust cleared, the North had a 4-1 lead.
The lead held up until the fourth when Weglein doubled off Ron Wilson of Crouse. Weglein went to third on a wild pitch, and scored on a double steal. Consecutive singles by Dave Pallone and John Hoerner of the Royals as well as a double by Dave Gilley of Essex evened matters at 4-4. From there however, the pitching stiffened. The North, scraping together single runs in the sixth and ninth, managed just three hits the rest ofthe way. The North pitchers were even stingier, allowing just two hits and not allowing a South runner past second base.
"Pitchers have a distinct advantage in games like this because hitters seldom get a second look," said Hughes.
The South's final flurry came in the ninth. With two outs, it had runners on first and second with speedy Charles "Cheese" Hawkins of the Catonsville Athletics at the plate facing Witasick. Hawkins worked the count to 3-2 before Witasick struckhim out with a fastball.
"I was sticking with the fastball. He looked like he was going to swing," said Witasick. "The catcher wanted the curve, but I just wanted to give him a fastball."
"It was a good game," Cooper said. "Games like these aren't for showcasing teams.They're for showcasing individuals."