Intense rivalries bring out the best in some players.
Just ask the Columbia Reds No. 2 team that beat Reds No. 1 Tuesday, 6-3, only tolose an 11-10 heart-breaker in the Thursday rematch.
Reds No. 1 is considered to be the cream of the crop, the best players the county has to offer outside of the Dayton American Legion team. Reds No. 2 is supposed to consist of the castoffs that Reds No. 1 didn't want.
The idea that Reds No. 2 is second-best was enough to rile that team into a baseball-playing frenzy Tuesday and Thursday.
"No doubt these were the two best games we've played all season," said Tom Showe, Reds No. 2 manager.
"We've been struggling. Pitching is the name of the game, and we're down to four pitchers."
But at Hammond High on Tuesday, Reds No. 2's Jason Green (Westminster High) pitched a six-hitter and hit a three-run homer off Howard CountySun Player of the Year Joe Nestor in the bottom of the last inning to shake the notion of the opponents' superiority. Green was 3-for-5 at the plate.
Two days later, at Atholton High School, Reds No. 2 almost did it again.
Reds No. 2 jumped out to a 3-0 lead Thursday in the first inning on three hits and a walk off Mike Lerner.
The key hits were an RBI double by Jeff Stewart and a two-run single by Jon Cohen.
Cohen added an RBI double in the third inning and went 3-for-3 with a walk and three RBI.
Leadoff batter Brian Gick hit an RBI single in the fourth, bringing the team's total runs to five.
Reds No. 1 chipped away at that lead with a two-run first inning featuring consecutive singles by Brian Schroeder, Jeff Cyran and Bobby Caswell.
Then it went ahead 5-3 on a three-run homer by Brian Lopez in the second inning. The deep blast to left field came off Reds No. 2 first-time starter Chris Glass.
Following that home run, however, Glass fanned Schroeder, Cyran and Caswell to end the inning -- quite a feat since it was only the second time all season that Schroeder had struck out and Cyran and Caswell are Reds No. 1's strongest hitters.
Reds No. 1 scored once in the third and three times in the fourth without a base hit. Seven walks and two errors during those innings provided the runs.
A two-run double by Travis Williams in the fifth inning gave Reds No. 1 an 11-5 lead. Reds No. 1 seemed to have the game under control and its reputation as the No. 1 team restored.
But Reds No. 2 came up with a five-run sixth inning that featured a three-run homer by Kevin Nickey. Reds No. 2 got speedster Damian Toliver on base with a one-out walk in the seventh. But Toliver, who walked four times, was stranded.
Reds. No. 2 batter Gick produced a big offensive night for Reds No. 2 by going 3-for-4 plus a walk. His line drive down the third base line in the seventh was ruled a foul ball by inches. He eventually struck out.
Reds No. 2 outhit Reds No. 1 10-8, but Reds No. 1 took better advantage of its nine walks thanits opponents did of its eight walks. Six Reds No. 1's walks scored,and only four of Reds No. 2's scored.
The game had a total of 21 runs, 18 hits, 17 walks and eight errors.
Lerner pitched 5 1/3 innings to pick up the win and improve his record to 3-1.
Lopez relieved and got the save.
"Even though they are called Reds No. 2, they played us tough two times in a row," Lerner said. "I'm just glad I have a good-hitting team behind me."
Lerner had a blister on his pitching hand that made it difficult for him to throw his curve.
Tait Arend pitched 3 2/3 innings in relief for Reds No. 2 and allowed just three hits but walked six.
Reds No. 1 is 13-14 on the season in Metro league play. Reds No. 2 is 6-21.