A coach's faith in a veteran pitcher who didn't appear to have a prayer left paid off yesterday as ninth-ranked Old Mill (5-3) upset top-ranked and previously unbeaten Arundel, 6-5, in Gambrills.
Arundel (9-1) was ranked No. 16 in yesterday's USA Today Super 25 for high school baseball, the only area team among the nation's elite, but Lee Haney's pitching tenacity, Mike Bussey's arm and Ryan Dempsey's five RBI beat the Wildcats.
Old Mill coach Mel Montgomery made a trip to the mound with the tying run coming to the plate in the area's hottest hitter, Tim Giles (.806). Montgomery never considered removing Haney (3-0) even after the left-hand-hitting Giles walked.
And Haney got the final out with the tying and winning runs aboard.
Haney (five hits, five strikeouts) had gotten out of a similar jam in the fifth, thanks to a stellar throw from right fielder Mike Bussey, and appeared to be pitching with nothing but heart in the seventh.
"I didn't take Lee out because I believe in him," said Montgomery.
"He's been pitching three years for us and had gotten us this far in the game. The trouble we were in in the seventh wasn't his fault and we finally got a break."
Needing three outs to beat the Wildcats, Haney walked pinch-hitter Tony Costanza, then retired Jeff Hedrick and Jimmy Taylor on fly balls. Taylor skied to Jimmy Greer in center, and Greer had a chance to double Costanza off first to end the ballgame, but his throw sailed into the Arundel dugout. Costanza was awarded third base and No. 3 hitter Mike Cozzone then drilled a shot at third baseman Ryan Wood, who couldn't find the handle, and Costanza scored to make it 6-4.
"With Giles coming up, coach Montgomery came out and told me to keep it away from him and not let him beat us," said Haney, who had given up only a run-scoring single to Giles in his three previous trips to the plate.
"He [Montgomery] has a reputation of letting his pitchers finish what they start," Haney said.
Haney walked Giles (the losing pitcher) on five pitches, putting Cozzone's courtesy runner, Jamie Stoddard, on second.
Mike Fairbanks lofted a pop-up behind third for what appeared to be the third out, but the ball struck left fielder Don Yost on the shoulder as he and shortstop Phil McGinnis collided.
Fairbanks took advantage of the new life and drilled a single into left-center, scoring Stoddard with Giles stopping at second.
After getting a called strike on Kevyn Dodson, Haney, who had hit three batters, went inside and Dodson's right shoulder turned toward the plate rather than away and the pitch struck his bat, rolling about 20 feet to the first-base side of the mound.
Haney pounced on it and threw to first baseman Dempsey for the final out.
"We finally got a break," said Montgomery. "This is the kind of win that could get us going."