Mt. Hebron's Gaigler works on double play Two-sport standout: Randy Gaigler achieved all-star status in hockey and is on his way to doing to the same in baseball.

April 25, 1996|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

Baseball? Ice hockey? Who cares?

Randy Gaigler of Mount Hebron just likes to swing a stick of wood.

He would probably make a great lumberjack.

An all-star hockey player, the senior third baseman hopes to achieve the same status in baseball.

And judging by his performance so far this spring, he certainly has a shot at it.

He's batting .484 (13-for-33) with six doubles and seven RBIs. As Mount Hebron's closer, he has a 1-1 record and 1.10 ERA.

And the Vikings (7-3) have turned around their 7-13 performance from a year ago and are threatening to win the county championship.

Gaigler models himself after former Cincinnati Reds third baseman, Chris Sabo, who also played hockey and baseball.

Like Sabo, Gaigler has only average speed but is a smart base runner.

"Playing hockey has helped my speed a lot," Gaigler said.

And like Sabo, Gaigler plays third base because he has a strong arm.

"We haven't really had that many save opportunities this season," coach Pat Crouse said. "But he did get the win in relief against Centennial. He's a hard thrower who throws strikes."

Gaigler said his pitch was clocked as high as 80 mph last summer.

"He's a solid defensive player, so its nice to have his defense on the mound late in the game," Crouse said. "But we have him on a 30-pitch limit."

Gaigler batted .373 for Harbor Federal last summer, a Baltimore City team that finished second in its 15- to 16-year-old Baltimore Metro League.

Gaigler didn't fare too well for Mount Hebron last season, batting .220 as a designated hitter.

He served notice early that this season would be different, however. He doubled with the bases loaded during Mount Hebron's first game against South Carroll.

Gaigler credits his father, Ken, for his success. "We were always at the park, and he was throwing me batting practice or hitting me fungoes," he said.

His father also has helped improve the fields for both teams on which Gaigler plays.

"He owns a drag and about once a week we drag the field," Crouse said. "He also helped us get sod."

The younger Gaigler considers baseball his No. 1 sport. "Because the quality of baseball in this area is much higher than it is in hockey. If I lived in New England I'd probably say hockey was my favorite."

But hockey still holds a special place in his memory. He's played it since he was 8.

He plays in both the Howard County Hockey League, on a Midget A team, and in the Maryland Scholastic Hockey League, a high school league.

He made the MSHL All-Star team two times as a defenseman, and has played at both the Baltimore Arena and the USAir Arena.

At 5-feet-10, 175 pounds, he is a hard hitter on the ice, but gets his biggest thrills from finesse moves.

"I like handling the puck and skating up the ice with it," he said. "It's fun to put moves on people."

Gaigler, who has had a 3.5 grade-point average the past two years, hopes to attend one of three Division II schools -- Elon, Merrimack or Indiana Tech -- or Division III Frostburg State.

Pub Date: 4/25/96

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