The South Carroll Cavaliers slugged their way through North Carroll, 11-5, yesterday to keep pace with Westminster in the Carroll County championship race and to keep their 3A West Regional playoff hopes alive.
No. 9 batter Brian Herche hit a grand slam and Jeremy Hancock a bases-empty homer to lead the Cavaliers' 12-hit charge that also included long run-scoring doubles by Zach Hollman and Ronnie White.
Hancock's shot to center field in the sixth inning was hit so hard that North Carroll center fielder Art Crouse just turned around and watched as it sailed over the fence.
Herche and Hancock each have hit three home runs this season, and yesterday's winning South Carroll pitcher Brad Schulze has four homers. Schulze hit three in one game against Linganore.
South Carroll has a total of 17 home runs with two regular-season games left.
The Cavaliers are tied with Westminster (both 4-1) for first place in Carroll County, with one game left against Liberty for each team. Westminster plays at Liberty Monday, and Liberty plays at South Carroll Tuesday.
If the two teams finish in a tie for first, the county will declare co-champions even though some South Carroll players and assistant coach George Hancock would love to see a one-game playoff.
"We could play the game, charge admission and give the proceeds to the two schools," said Hancock.
As far as the regionals are concerned, South Carroll (12-6 overall, in the Central Maryland Conference, 4-1 in the county) has to beat Howard and Liberty and hope that Seneca Valley (Montgomery County) loses two of its last three games.
"It's hard to believe we've played this well this season and are still fighting for a playoff berth," said South Carroll coach Joe Foltz, whose team could be on the outside looking in with a 14-6 record.
Making this 3A playoff drive even more important for Foltz is the fact that this is his last season at South Carroll after compiling a 70-61 record in seven years.
Foltz, who teaches electronics at South Carroll, will lose that position at the end of the school year because the course is being dropped due to a lack of students.
Foltz is looking for an electronics teaching job elsewhere and said he would not coach at South Carroll unless he was teaching there.
For North Carroll (4-11, 2-10, 1-5), it was another long afternoon as starting pitcher Kris Heefner got racked hard by the Cavaliers before departing in the fifth inning with one out and the Panthers trailing 6-3.
North Carroll reliever Sam Dougherty then walked Ronnie White to load the bases, setting the stage for Herche to unload the slam to deep right.
North Carroll coach Denny Snyder said: "We gave South Carroll four outs [from errors] too many times and you can't do that to a team that can bang the ball out of the park like that. We just lost a lot of confidence early in the season when we lost four games by a total of six runs and now we're playing not to lose instead of to win."