For-real Wilde Lake takes title Wildecats rally, hand Atholton first loss, 8-6


April 04, 1997|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

Two days ago, Wilde Lake's team was a nobody. Now it's a Howard County contender.

The Wildecats came from behind to upset unbeaten, No. 8-ranked Atholton and win the Atholton Tournament yesterday, 8-6.

That's an amazing feat for a school that has won one county baseball championship in the previous 25 years, and hasn't posted a winning season during the '90s. In the past four seasons, Wilde Lake was 15-57.

Neither Wilde Lake coach Don Storr nor his players comprehended the significance of what they did by defeating Glenelg and Atholton on back-to-back days. They are too young -- the team has just two seniors.

They have little or no memory of the pain of Wilde Lake's 25-year baseball history. And they don't appear to know that Glenelg or Atholton has won 11 of the last 14 county titles. The Wildecats (5-1) do know now that they can play competitively with Glenelg and Atholton this season.

They won yesterday with a five-run, sixth-inning rally that erased a 6-3 Atholton lead and made a winner out of Wilde Lake starting pitcher Mike Dunnington, who pitched out of several potential disasters with minimal damage.

Dunnington's strikeout of Scott Sabot with a runner in scoring position ended Atholton's two-run first inning, which featured a bases-empty home run by Sean Williams. Dunnington's strikeout of cleanup batter Matt Gordon with the bases loaded ended Atholton's one-run second inning.

Atholton had a runner at third base with one out in the third inning, but didn't score as Dunnington snagged a hard comebacker.

A diving back-handed catch by right fielder Aaron Altscher with the bases loaded ended Atholton's three-run fourth inning.

"My slider got me out of trouble a lot of times," Dunnington said. "I don't think they realized I was throwing one."

Dunnington (2-0) escaped damage in his fifth and final inning when third baseman Levi Zwerling snagged a hot smash by Williams to save a run.

Atholton starter Doug Airel, a first-team all-county performer last season, meanwhile sailed through five innings on what should have been a shutout except for poor defense. Instead, the Wildecats scrapped for three runs.

Tony Jackson, Wilde Lake's senior leader, led off the decisive sixth inning with a single, his second hit. Seth Smith walked. Derrick Jordan bunted them up. Zwerling grounded out as a run scored. Then Altscher singled home a run and pinch hitter Pat Nugent smacked a game-tying RBI single -- his third pinch hit of the season.

Chris Matschat walked, at which point Atholton (5-1) brought in a new pitcher, left-hander Matt Martiny. Chris Yetter's opposite-field pop fly down the third-base line then fell for a two-run game-winning double.

"I thought it was caught," said Yetter, who pitched the last two innings for Wilde Lake to earn his second save.

In the consolation game Glenelg defeated Hammond, 8-3, on a three-run home run by Mike Rice.

Pub Date: 4/04/97

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