It mattered little to 30 high school players that only a couple hundred fans stayed after yesterday's Orioles game -- a 9-2 loss to the Kansas City Royals -- to watch the Crown High School All-Star Game. After all, the high schoolers got a chance to play at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
And their game was better.
After a back-and-forth slugfest that saw the lead change hands four times, Bill O'Patterson of North Harford tied the game in the seventh with an RBI triple down the right-field line, then scored on a sacrifice fly by Patterson's Roger Main to give the North a dramatic 7-6 win over the South in the 11th annual Crown game.
"I got a fastball on 3-and-1, and I just tried to nail it as hard as I could," said O'Patterson. The triple drove in Michael Martin of North Hagerstown with the tying run.
"This experience was everything I thought it would be and more," O'Patterson said. "It was just great playing here."
The win gave the North an 8-3 advantage in the series, which up to this year had been played at Memorial Stadium. For most of the participants, however, the thrill of playing at the most talked-about park in baseball overshadowed the results on the field.
The day began with the introduction of both teams in front of more than 40,000 people before the start of the Orioles game. The players were then whisked away to the upper deck, where they spent about three hours fighting off the butterflies.
"We were all sitting up there, all psyched to play," said Fallston's Brett Seidel. "I think we were all pretty nervous before the game. Once we were out there, it took awhile for the butterflies to go away."
The highlight for the South came in the top of the seventh when Richard Spiegel of Northeast, hobbled by an injured foot, hit a bases-empty home run to left, giving his team a 6-5 lead. Spiegel, normally a catcher, was unable to play the field. He could barely run around the bases.
"For the last couple of nights I've thought that it would be really nice to hit a home run at Camden Yards," said Spiegel, who said he probably wouldn't have played if not for the chance to hit at Oriole Park. "I really wanted to say I did it."