Other than striking out the last batter to complete a no-hitter or perfect game, there is no bigger thrill in baseball than hitting a game-winning homer.
When it ends the game in extra innings, the rush is indescribable. It's a feeling Chesapeake's Jeff Fraley won't soon forget.
Leading off the bottom of the eighth, the left-handed-swinging Fraley lifted a 2-2 pitch from Steve Sylvester over the left-field fence to give No. 7-ranked Chesapeake a 10-9 victory over No. 4 Arundel (18-5) yesterday in the Class 4A East final played in Lake Shore.
"It was a fast ball outside, and I just went with the pitch," said Fraley, one of 11 seniors on the Cougar squad. "It's my second opposite-field homer this season and it felt great."
Fraley's fifth homer overall ended Arundel's state record run of six consecutive region titles. Fraley also contributed in relief of starter Jared Vogt, striking out the side with the bases loaded in the fourth when Arundel was about to break the game open.
"We had a lot of chances, some golden opportunities, and Fraley striking out those three was pretty important," said Arundel coach Bernie Walter.
Fraley had pitched earlier in the week. In the three innings he was allowed to pitch yesterday under state rules, he gave up three runs, two of them unearned. Brian Lane's two-run homer off Fraley in the sixth tied the game at 7 and sent it into extra innings.
Ray Wagner, the only junior who starts for Chesapeake, pitched the final two innings to pick up the win in relief. Center fielder Chad Duncan threw out a runner at third in the sixth to quell a Wildcats threat and bail Wagner out of a jam.
The region championship for the Cougars is their first since 1987 when they repeated in Class A (now 3A) under coach Larry Schillenberg. Chesapeake won one other region title in 1983.
Seventh-year coach Jim Simms gets his first shot at a state title at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Kelly Park in Gaithersburg vs. Parkdale in the Class 4A semis. Defending state champion Wootton was eliminated in the West last week.
"I was pretty disgusted with this bunch after the Arundel loss [10-3 in regular season]," said Simms. "They had no enthusiasm, and we had a two-hour practice after the game that Saturday. I told them I was tired of hearing talk and wanted to see some action.
"They've really bounced back and this week shown a lot of enthusiasm. They don't want to take off their jerseys yet."
The Cougars, who won four straight games in the region, nearly lost the shirts on their backs a couple times yesterday, blowing early (5-1) and late leads (9-7) and committing five errors.
Arundel scored in its first at-bat on a fielder's choice RBI by Tom Ogilvie, but the Cougars answered with three runs. A two-run double by starting pitcher Jared Vogt highlighted the Cougars' first.
Marvin Hazen's first high school homer, a two-run shot, gave Chesapeake a 5-1 lead in the second with the chance for a cushion. Lefty Justin Bell threw the first inning for Arundel with Sylvester coming on in the second.
After the Hazen homer, Sylvester walked Fraley and Mike Bianco singled. Sylvester escaped without further damage by striking out Vogt and coaxing Dave Stepp into an inning-ending grounder.
Pub Date: 5/17/97