Arundel's Paul Yannuzzi was sitting up against a fence at Chesapeake High eating from a bag of potato chips when an observer asked the inevitable question, "What brings you here?"
"I'm just here to watch a good softball game," the assistant softball coach quipped. "You know me, I just love softball."
Yesterday, Yannuzzi and Arundel head coach Don Banks, just loved the Chesapeake softball team that defeated Glen Burnie, 5-3, giving the Wildcats the coveted fourth seed in the Class 4A Region IV playoffs.
"I had to come and see it for myself," said Banks, who arrived in the bottom of the second inning, but didn't leave until the final out. "It was a beautiful day and a beautiful game."
Having already clinched the No. 1 seed prior to yesterday's contest, Chesapeake coach Dennis Thiele asked his players who they preferred to have visit them in tomorrow's first-round game.
By game's end, it was obvious who the Cougars preferred.
"They said they wanted to play Arundel in the first round, and I said, 'OK, here's your opportunity to knock Glen Burnie out,' and that's what they did," said Thiele, whose team defeated Arundel, 15-0, earlier in the season. "They went out there and did what they had to do to win."
Chesapeake (16-1) took advantage of four errors in the third inning and quickly jumped out to a 5-0 lead. Designated hitter Kristin Spak scored first for the Cougars on a bunt by third baseman Nancy Yeager, who reached first on a throwing error by the catcher.
A pair of sacrifice flies by Stacey Necessary and Becky Thiele scored Michelle Arch (who had reached on a single) and Yeager to make it a 3-0 ballgame.
Right fielder Tracy Starke lined a shot up the middle that ricocheted off the leg of freshman pitcher Samantha Miller, and Starke later scored on a Jamie Long single.
Chesapeake got its fifth run when Spak, batting for the second time in the inning, brought Long home on yet another Gopher error.
"Chesapeake had that one big inning, and that really turned the tide a little bit," said Glen Burnie assistant coach Don Dzambo, who was filling in for Bob Broccolino who couldn't attend the makeup game because of a prior engagement.
"I thought we started out well, but our defense really just broke down that one inning. That's been the story of our season, up and down. It goes up and down, not only from game to game, but from inning to inning."
After struggling to get runners on base with Lori Congdon (9-0) on the mound for the Cougars, Glen Burnie (10-8) took advantage of a pitching change in the sixth inning and jumped all over Spak.
Heather Smith's triple to left scored Susan Kroedel who reached on an error, and Miller helped her own cause with a two-run single to left.
"Kristin admitted her stuff wasn't on today," said Thiele, who reinserted Congdon (13 strikeouts) in the seventh inning. "Her riser was hanging in the strike zone, and they were tagging it.
"What I try to do is mix it up with both pitchers, and that usually keeps teams off balance. They get used to the rhythm of one pitcher, and then you put someone else in, with a different style of throwing, and it throws them off.
"When we had the advantage in the seventh, I said, 'I want to do away with these guys right now.' I didn't want to see them again on Thursday."