Jeff Hawk was running to first base early in the season when he felt it -- a pulled hamstring.
C. Milton Wright's star outfielder left the game in pain. The rest of his senior season was suddenly in question.
"I was worried because it was pretty bad," said Hawk. "The trainer said it wasn't torn but almost."
For the Mustangs, having Hawk on the bench meant losing a lot of offense from the lineup. Hawk, who has played baseball since he was 5 years old, batted close to .400 in 1991 and was off to an even better start in 1992.
The diagnosis was a strained hamstring and good for Hawk and the Mustangs. He was told he would probably have to miss 10 days.
But Hawk managed not to miss a game. He came on in the late innings of the Mustangs' next outing as a pinch hitter and drew a walk.
He hasn't missed a game since.
Mustangs' coach Jim Miller used Hawk as a designated hitter for the next two games before he returned to the outfield. The Mustangs' captain, who also quarterbacked the football team last fall, didn't surprise anybody with his quick return.
"He is rather intense and he plays hard all the time," said Miller. "He does what you tell him. He's able to execute just about anything you need him to do -- he can bunt, he can steal, he can punch the ball to the opposite field if he has to."
Hawk leads the team in several categories including batting average. After going 1-for-4 in Wednesday's 10-4 loss to Bel Air, Hawk's average stood at .500. He had 23 RBI along with seven doubles, three triples and two home runs. He had only struck out twice all season.
Against Bel Air, Hawk's second-inning double drove in two runs and tied the game, 3-3. Hawk might have had another hit, but Bel Air shortstop Pete McKinney robbed him on a first-inning line drive.
In a 17-4 romp over Edgewood Monday, Hawk had two singles and three runs batted in.
As sensational as he is at the plate, Hawk is just as good in the outfield. The three-year starter in center hasn't made an error this season.
As the top returning player from last year's 18-3 county championship squad, Hawk might seem to be under a lot of pressure. The Mustangs lost most of their booming bats, and Hawk is the Mustangs' main power hitter. But Hawk said he hasn't felt any pressure.
"The Sun ranked us kind of high (No. 10 in preseason). I didn't think we were that good," said Hawk, whose team is now ranked 15th by The Sun. "I thought we could compete. I thought we could possibly win the county title, but I didn't see it as pressure."
With three games remaining, the Mustangs were battling for a Class 3A regional playoff berth. The loss to Bel Air dropped their record to 11-6 overall and 9-4 in the county.
The Mustangs appear to be out of the running for a county title since Joppatowne hadn't lost a league game until dropping a 9-6 decision to Fallston Wednesday.
Hawk's baseball playing days won't end when the Mustangs' season does. He plans to play summer ball in the Baltimore Metro League.
He also hopes to play in college next spring. Several college coaches have contacted Hawk, who carries a 3.5 grade point average, but he hasn't made a decision yet.