Southern's Benton serves up curve to Poly, wins, 5-0

April 19, 1994|By Jeff Seidel | Jeff Seidel,Special to The Sun

James Benton of Southern said the emergence of a consistent curve has made him a more complete pitcher -- something Poly found out yesterday.

Benton kept Poly off-balance most of the game with his curve, and the junior capped his two-hitter by retiring the final 11 batters to lift Southern to a 5-0 victory over the host Engineers.

Poly (4-3) struggled with Benton, a junior, the entire game. The pitcher from Southern (5-3) faced only two batters over the minimum and had little trouble with the Engineers, throwing a total of 77 pitches.

"The curve has made a big difference," said Benton. "It makes me more confident when I get people out with the curve."

Benton went 5-1 last year, but did not have confidence in the curve. This year is a different story.

Benton allowed singles to only Dustin Jones and Stefan Foster, but picked off the former and saw the latter get caught stealing. The Engineers stranded Mike Lambert at third in the first following a walk, steal and sacrifice bunt, and never got a runner past first.

"He pitched a heck of a game," said Poly coach Mark Schlenoff. "We just couldn't get around on him."

On the other side, Poly pitcher Steve Worrell also threw a good game. Worrell went 6 2/3 innings, giving up eight hits and keeping Southern off the scoreboard most of the time.

But the Bulldogs scored in the second. Jimmy Loetz and Billy Thomas singled to start the inning and, one out later, Chris Calvert walked. Steve Balderson's sacrifice fly scored Loetz for a 1-0 lead.

Kenny Toloziecki doubled in Balderson in the fourth for a 2-0 lead. The lead would have been bigger, but Poly shortstop Chuck Wilhelm cut down Jason Peters at home with a perfect relay on the Toloziecki hit.

Southern broke open the game in the seventh. Benton started things with a double to center, and Loetz walked. Billy Thomas then lined one to right-center, and the Bulldogs got a break when Foster and Jones collided and the ball fell for a triple. Both Benton and Loetz scored, and Mike Cofelice made it 5-0 moments later by scoring Thomas on a ground out.

Benton, meanwhile, kept mowing down the Engineers. He allowed only five balls out of the infield, and Poly never did figure him out.

"He's always thrown the ball hard, but this year he's picked up a curve and he's throwing it for strikes," said Southern coach Bill Parker. "In high school, if you can throw a fastball and a curve for strikes, you're going to win."

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