Unbeaten Atholton holds off Hammond Surprising Raiders move into first with 5-3 victory

April 04, 1996|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

Atholton coach Kevin Kelly has tried to keep his team a well-kept secret.

Even after the Raiders (4-0 overall, 2-0 league) took sole possession of first place with a 5-3 victory over Hammond yesterday, Kelly expressed doubts about whether his team would have enough offensive power to stay in contention with the likes of defending state champion Glenelg.

"The easy way to win games is with home runs, and we just don't have the people who are going to hit them," he said.

Second baseman Jason Sandner may not hit many home runs, but he hit three doubles yesterday, giving him six on the season. Sandner is eight for 14.

"Sandner is a real nice hitter and I wouldn't trade him for anyone," Kelly said. "And Sean Williams is going to hit for us, but beyond that I'm not sure what we have offensively."

Cleanup hitter Travis Devine hit a two-run double in the first inning yesterday, and later scored on a wild pitch as the Raiders jumped out to a 3-0 lead against Hammond's sophomore starter Nick Peter.

Williams drove in a run in the third inning on a single, and Atholton scored its fifth run on Sandner's double in the fourth inning.

Other than that, Atholton's only hit was a single by Corey Cannell in the fourth inning. He was thrown out trying to steal third, deflating what could have been a big inning.

"We do need to hit better," Sandner said. "But our defense and pitching has been good."

Atholton starting pitcher Doug Airel earned his first varsity win and was tough when he had to be. The sophomore pitched into the seventh inning and allowed three runs, three hits, struck out eight, walked five, hit a batter and threw five wild pitches.

But Hammond (1-1, 1-1) was 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position, and left runners at third base in the first, second, fourth and sixth innings.

"Doug is pretty tough when he gets his curve over like he did today," Kelly said.

The Bears scored two runs in the sixth inning on an error by the Atholton right fielder.

Airel's back-to-back walks to start the seventh forced Kelly to bring in Chris Russ, who retired the next three batters. But Hammond's Joe Norsworthy scored on a groundout.

Norsworthy, Hammond's leadoff batter, reached base three times and has reached six of his last eight plate appearances.

"We played errorless defense," Hammond coach Bob Maxey said. "[But] we didn't get the clutch hits."

Pub Date: 4/04/96

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