Atholton surges to final

May 25, 1994|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,Special to The Sun

FREDERICK -- The 11th-ranked Atholton Raiders are no strangers to lopsided victories, having used their big bats to average nearly 10 runs a game this season.

But even coach Kevin Kelly admitted he was surprised by the Raiders' output yesterday in the Class 2A state semifinals at McCurdy Field.

Every member of the starting lineup reached base at least twice, and third-seeded Atholton erupted for 23 hits en route to a 21-2 shellacking of second-seeded North Hagerstown.

The victory sent the red-hot Raiders into their first-ever state championship game.

For Kelly, whose team has scored 45 runs in its three playoff games -- including 39 in the last two -- the Raiders' offensive production has been a bit hard to explain.

"If you would've told me that we'd score this many runs, I would've never believed it," said the fourth-year coach. "We're hitting the ball, and I just hope it continues on Saturday.

That's when the Raiders (16-7) will meet the winner of the other semifinal between top-seeded Elkton and fourth-seeded Parkside for the Class 2A state championship at Joe Cannon Stadium in Harmans at 3:30 p.m.

To get there, the Raiders pummeled North Hagerstown pitching for two runs in the first, six in the second, one in the sixth and four each in the third, fifth and seventh.

Hubs starter Rich Eichelberger, who entered the game 5-1 with a 1.58 ERA, lasted just 1 1/3 innings, giving up seven hits and five earned runs.

During one stretch in the early innings, 13 of 14 Atholton batters reached base.

"We were just seeing the ball and hitting it," said designated hitter Brandon Eierman, who went 4-for-6 with two doubles, two RBIs and three runs scored. "After the first inning I thought it would be a good day."

First baseman Pete Yoder, who went 3-for-5 with four RBIs, said the team has been more focused at the plate in the postseason.

"We've just turned it up a notch," said Yoder. "Our bats have been just great in the playoffs."

Other Raiders with big days included Jason Sandner (3-for-5), Billy Hite (3-for-4), Spike Altman (2-for-4) and brothers Ryan and Derrek Schneider, who together reached base seven times.

"We haven't had that done to us before," said North Hagerstown coach Dave Warrenfeltz, whose team finished its season 17-6.

"We've got pretty good pitchers, and they just came out and jumped all over us.

"They're red hot right now, and if they come out like that on Saturday they've got a state champion."

For Kelly, that's an exciting proposition.

"We've done something that no one has ever done at Atholton High School," he said. "We're going to go out there on Saturday and give it a shot.

"I just hope we didn't hit ourselves out."

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