With a second-inning, 8-0 lead over the Linthicum-Ferndale Raiders, an eight-run slaughter-rule victory -- and the Anne Arundel All-Stars' fourth straight win -- seemed imminent.
The All-Stars had battedaround in each of the first two innings, laying waste to the Raiders' Eric Howard, who left the game after throwing 72 pitches in just 1 2/3 innings.
Enter Steve Goodman.
"I don't get many starts, so usually whenI get in there to pitch, we're in that kind of situation," said Goodman, 18, who entered the game with two outs after Howard loaded the bases with his sixth walk.
"I get in around the third or fourth inning and try to keep them hitting the ball on the ground and hope the defense comes through."
Although the All-Stars won the game in five innings, 10-2, to advance from Division I into the playoffs of the Continental Amateur Baseball Association's 18-and-under World Series,they were temporarily baffled by Goodman's change of pace.
"SteveGoodman gets up there and knows how to change speeds and locate the ball very well," said Raiders coach Gary Shaner. "He is a good change-of-pace ballplayer."
A weary Goodman was taking the mound for thefourth time last week, and he did so in front of a defense that had committed five errors in the first two innings.
"The infield is what really hurt us in the first inning," said Shaner, whose club (2-5)began play in the tournament's consolation bracket Saturday. "They had three errors and that was three runs. You take those away and there's no slaughter-rule win."
But the damage had already been done, and Goodman now faced the All-Stars' Craig Everett. A fierce slugger known for his clutch hitting, Everett had 30 RBI and four homers for state-champion Northeast last spring.
Like Shaner said, however, it was business as usual for Goodman.
Sure enough, Goodman induced Everett to fly out to center and kept the next eight batters hitless over 2 1/3 innings. Included in that bunch were All-County players Rob McCandless and Mark Budzinski, both of whom struck out.
"The first guy really didn't have a changeup or anything. He just threw pretty much fastballs. So, I guess when (Goodman) came in, we weren't really expecting much from him, either," Everett said.
"But he surprised us. He changed speeds a lot, and his pitches broke a little bit."
Were it not for a fourth-inning error by Raiders second baseman Scott Lam -- the team's sixth of seven miscues -- none of those batterswould have reached first base.
There was one out when Lam droppedTim Collins' pop-up just shy of right field. Collins went to second base on that play, and to third on a sacrifice fly, but was left stranded when Goodman whiffed Steve Neuberger.
"I don't have much of afastball, but they were out in front of the ball a lot," said Goodman, a Brooklyn Park resident. "I just tried to keep it down. I changedthe pitches up a lot and gave them different looks, with the sidearmhere and there. I tried to make them think."
Meanwhile, a Raidersoffense that had been ineffective against All-Stars pitcher Jim Wolfe rallied behind Goodman in the third inning.
Third baseman Tim Corcoran fielded a grounder by the Raiders' Mark Shamleffter, but he overthrew first base, allowing Shamleffter to take second.
Consecutive singles by Lam (2-for-3) and Dave Arnold loaded the bases. Shamleffter then crossed the plate on a fielder's choice at second base to make it 8-1, and Lam scored when second baseman Collins overthrew first.
By the fifth inning, however, Everett was ready for a second try. He had used his time in the dugout to analyze Goodman's arsenal and -- with one out in the fifth -- the rangy outfielder blasted a 360-foot shot over the center-field fence to put the All-Stars ahead, 9-2.
"Everything was working until I let the ball hang up there a little bit and (Everett) hit that dinger," Goodman said. "That shook me up a little bit. But I was also starting to get tired because of all the work I've gotten this week. I just didn't have much left."
Goodman's concentration was broken. He walked the next batter and gave up a bloop single to Wes Zimmerman.
By the time McCandless stepped up to the plate, there was just one out and Larry Krzyzaniak -- who reached on a walk -- had taken third base.
McCandless ended matterswith a sacrifice fly to left field, but Goodman had given the playoff-bound All-Stars a game to remember.