David Gunter had listened to all kinds of advice. He had tried all sorts of adjustments at the plate. And while his production continued to slip, so did his position in Glenelg's batting order. Such is lifewhen you're mired in a batting slump.
But Gunter erased three weeks' of frustration with one swing Friday. His fifth-inning, three-runhome run off Mount Hebron pitcher Alan Vandeberg turned a 6-5 deficit into an 8-6 victory for the Gladiators.
Gunter's homer capped a four-run inning and rescued Glenelg, which had blown a 4-2 lead. The homer, which came off a first-pitch fastball, also may have rescued Gunter's confidence. After playing the first five games as the Gladiators' No. 5 hitter, Gunter watched Glenelg(4-1, 4-2) coach Terry Coleman drop him to the seventh spot in the batting order.
"I was something like 6-for-18 before today, but I haven't been hitting like a fifth batter should," said Gunter, a junior who transferred from Mount St. Joe at the start of the season, and had only five RBI before Friday. He struck out and flied out in his first two at-bats against Vandeberg.
"I've been getting a bloop hithere, a ground ball in the hole there," Gunter added. "Some of the guys have been frustrated with me, and I understand why. I've been listening to all kinds of (hitting) suggestions. I've been hitting off my front foot, and I decided to stay back and take a tomahawk swing. Ihad a good feeling when I hit it."
Gunter was feeling better thanColeman after the game. Coleman, while happy the Gladiators answeredHebron's comeback to remain in second place behind undefeated Atholton, was angry with Glenelg's sloppy play.
The game provided littleartistic pleasure. Five errors were committed, three by the Gladiators, who handed Hebron (3-2, 4-4) three unearned runs.
Glenelg first baseman David Buckholtz dropped a throw in the second inning -- it would have been the third out -- to allow the first Hebron run to score. Then, in the third inning, Vandeberg botched an easy force play at third base to usher in two more easy runs for the Vikings, who tooka short-lived, 5-4 lead at that point.
Even Gunter wasn't immune.After blasting the game-winner in the fifth, he dropped a two-out flyball in the sixth. That miscue proved to be harmless.
"The mentalmistakes we're making right now are crazy. This is not Glenelg baseball the way it's been played for the last 10 years," said Coleman, who has won four county titles, one state title and is trying to win a county championship for the first time since 1987.
"We're 4-1, butwe're struggling. These are the kind of mistakes we can't make if wewant to win a title. Today was brutal. We're lucking out right now."
Which is more than Hebron can say. The Vikings limped into Glenelg minus two key seniors in ace pitcher Mike Miller and first baseman Chris Leinauer. Leinauer was serving a mandatory, one-game suspensionafter being ejected from Wednesday's 9-3 loss to Wilde Lake for, of all things, reaching first base after a third-strike, wild pitch without his batting helmet.
Miller's case is more serious. He was suspended from the team a week ago in a disciplinary matter, and might not return. He should learn the results of his appeal this week.
Glenelg wasted little time against Vandeberg. Jamie Brinker opened the game with a bloop down the line that Hebron right fielder Mike Fadrowski failed to handle. After Matt Drummond singled, Joe Goldberg lined the first of two doubles to give the Gladiators a 2-0 lead. Goldberg,who reached base in all four at-bats and scored three runs, then scored to make it 3-0 following a single by Brian Boteler.
Hebron picked up an unearned run in the second, and cut the lead to 3-2 in the third on a leadoff line-drive homer to left by third baseman Mike Carter.
Goldberg answered by leading off the bottom of the third witha double, taking third on a wild pitch, then scoring on a sacrifice fly by Boteler to make it 4-2.
The Gladiators nearly gave the gameaway after that. Hebron picked up two unearned runs in a three-run fourth and added a run in the fifth on the wheels of Fadrowski (2-for-4, three steals, two runs). He singled, stole second and third, then scored on a wild pitch by Jeff Lewis, who relieved Glenelg starter Kevin Rolland after four innings. Hebron led, 6-4.
That set the stage for Gunter. And after his decisive swing, Lewis bounced back to pitch two scoreless innings and pick up the victory.