Atholton surprises Oakland Mills in baseball opener

April 01, 1993|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,Staff Writer

The unexpected was commonplace during defending county baseball co-champion Atholton's 4-3 opening day victory over visiting Oakland Mills yesterday.

First, there was Atholton athletic director Don Van Deusen making his emergency umpiring debut from behind the pitcher's mound. Van Deusen filled in when no umpires showed up.

Then there was surprise Atholton starting pitcher Keith Schultz, a junior right-hander who was 1-1 for the junior varsity last season. He pitched five innings of two-hit, no-run ball and made coach Kevin Kelly look like a genius.

"I didn't expect to start," Schultz said. "I didn't know until today."

Kelly said: "I probably took a risk pitching Schultz and not No. 1 [Shane] Beaver, but our team just needed to know that Schultz can pitch. And we're scheduled to play Westminster tomorrow, and they're a pretty good team so I wanted Beaver to pitch that one."

Sophomore Oakland Mills shortstop Mike Schmitz also added to the roll call of the unexpected. He emerged from nowhere in the last two weeks to impress coach Bill Winder and earn the starting job. He also unexpectedly provided two of the Scorpions' four hits from the No. 8 spot in the batting order.

"He's going to be a great defensive player," Winder said, comparing Schmitz to David Everly, a former Oakland Mills shortstop great who played on scholarship at the University of Michigan.

But Schmitz unexpectedly made two errors, one of which came at a crucial time during Atholton's two-run third inning.

The game's ending also held an unexpected twist. Atholton was leading 4-0 as Oakland Mills took its final at-bat. The Scorpions then rallied for three runs on a walk, a single and three Atholton errors.

"The last inning looked like a Little League game," Kelly said.

The game ended on Eric Jayne's line drive to left field that threatened to get up the alley before it was caught by Atholton left fielder D. J. Chiles.

Right-hander Matt Noon went the distance for Oakland Mills, allowing just five hits. The last two cost him the game, however. They were two-out, back-to-back flares to right field by Spike Altman and Chiles. The winning run scored on a throwing error by Oakland Mills second baseman John Vassil.

Third baseman Richard Blankenship was the hitting hero for Atholton, knocking two-out RBI singles to center field in the first and third innings.

But Blankenship also made two fielding errors, giving Kelley reason to worry that the left side of his infield isn't any stronger than the one that made 25 errors last season. That side made three errors yesterday.

The game might have gone to extra innings in the blustery March weather, but Oakland Mills had a runner thrown out at the plate in the fifth inning. With runners at second and first, Schultz's pickoff throw to first base was wild and Schmitz tried to go all the way home but was out on a close play.

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