The seventh-ranked Loyola baseball team entered yesterday's game against host and No. 9 Old Mill minus the services of six players, including three starters.
Some were taking SATs, others visiting college campuses and still others recovering from injuries.
Combined with the fact that winning or losing meant nothing to Loyola's postseason hopes, it was easy Baseball
to understand coach Dave McCann's reaction after his team's 14-7 loss.
"We looked at this as an exhibition game," said McCann, who was forced by circumstance to use outfielder Ruffin Bell as the starting pitcher.
"I saw this as a chance to play a lot of reserves. With conference games Monday, Wednesday and Friday, we couldn't afford to use a front-line pitcher."
The game originally was scheduled as a preseason exhibition before it was postponed by rain. The Dons agreed to squeeze it into their regular-season schedule only two weeks ago at the urging of Old Mill coach Mel Montgomery, whose team needed another game to improve its chances for state playoff qualification.
With the odds stacked against them, however, the Dons (6-5) made a good account of themselves early, even leading, 5-4, in the second inning.
Brian Perrier led the Loyola hitting attack with a double, home run and three RBI in his first two at-bats. Jason Smith, Joe Coates and Eric Frankovic also contributed with two hits each.
Meanwhile, the Patriots (8-3) scored four in the first, three in the second and fourth and two in the fifth and sixth, respectively, taking advantage of the Dons' wildness and inexperience on the mound.
Bell, who had pitched just two innings all season, lasted into the fifth, giving up six hits, seven walks and 10 earned runs.
"It was like batting practice," said Old Mill's Ryan Scott, who reached base his first four times up, driving in three.
"When he got it over, everything was going right down the center of the plate."
Patriots' leadoff hitter Phillip McGinnis reached base five times, though he got only one hit, and his team scored its first 10 runs on just five hits.
"They scored seven early, but I knew we would score more," Montgomery said. "I knew we would hit the ball. These guys aren't shy with the bat."
McCann said the loss meant nothing. In fact, he was pleased to get a number of underused reserves into the game.
He says it could help quite a bit in the Maryland Scholastic Association playoffs later this month.
"We knew we weren't coming down here with a full squad," McCann said.
3' "To me, this doesn't mean a thing."