Atholton's Schultz stops Hammond on 3 hits, 4-0 Baseball

May 07, 1993|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,Staff Writer

Add Hammond to the list of teams that has discovered how tough it is to hit Keith Schultz's slow curveball.

Schultz, a junior Atholton right-hander, tamed the hard-hitting Bears with a three-hitter yesterday at Hammond, 4-0.

The victory brought the unheralded pitcher's record to 4-0. The effort against Hammond was his second shutout and third complete game.

Schultz has allowed five earned runs in 28 innings. At the beginning of the season he was considered to be Atholton's No. 3 pitcher behind Shane Beaver and Richard Blankenship.

"That just goes to show you how much I know," said Atholton coach Kevin Kelly. "Back when we were practicing in the gym before the season began he didn't have much of a curve, but has worked hard to develop it. We really needed for him to come up big today."

Atholton (9-5, 6-3) is battling with Centennial for the fourth and final Region III, Class 3A playoff spot, and every game is crucial.

Hammond (7-4, 4-2) has been the season's biggest surprise and entered yesterday's game with one league loss -- the same as first-place Glenelg, a team the Bears face Saturday at 4 p.m. at Glenelg.

The Bears average nine hits and five runs, but were limited to three singles by Schultz, who walked one and struck out eight. The Bears had crushed Atholton, 8-1, earlier this season.

"We were coming off a tough loss to Centennial, so it felt really good to beat these guys at their place," Schultz said. "The keys were that I was able to stay ahead in the count and had good control."

Hammond starter Matt Cyran pitched almost as well, allowing two unearned runs and four hits until the seventh inning.

Then a walk, a bunt on which no one covered first base, a two-out intentional walk to Kevin Nickey and a double by Ryan Schneider pushed across two more Atholton runs.

Hammond center fielder Joe Brewer nearly pulled off a diving catch on Schneider's hit.

Schneider had been injured in the earlier game between the teams when Cyran collided with him at home plate, and a banged-up ankle makes it impossible for Schneider to catch for now.

"Ryan is one of our gamers, so I have him at first base because he can't move too well," Kelly said.

Hammond coach Bob Maxey said he didn't hesitate to walk Nickey to pitch to Schneider. "Nickey is probably their best hitter and loading the bases gave us a play at any base,'" Maxey said.

Atholton scored once in the second on a leadoff double by Blankenship, a groundout and a passed ball.

Blankenship led off the fourth inning with a single, stole second base and later scored when Hammond right fielder Mike Micka dropped a two-out fly ball.

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