Lansdowne hammers Howard for shot at crown Zimmerman's 2 homers lead Vikings into finale

May 23, 1998|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

Lansdowne slugger Tom Zimmerman is a happy guy today.

First, his Vikings were yanked from the ranks of the playoff also-rans Wednesday because of a double forfeit by Loch Raven and Atholton, both of whom violated state pitching violations in their Tuesday state semifinal game. Lansdowne had lost to Loch Raven in the regional championship game last Saturday.

Then, in yesterday's Class 2A state semifinal against Howard at Joe Cannon Stadium in Harmans, Zimmerman slugged a pair of three-run home runs and went 3-for-4 as the Vikings pounded Howard, 12-2, in a six-inning game ended prematurely by the 10-run slaughter rule.

Lansdowne (15-5) will play the Eastern Shore's North Caroline for the state title today at the same stadium. The Vikings won their only state title in 1993 and lost in the finals in 1992.

Zimmerman thinks Lansdowne's unexpected semifinal berth offset a playoff system that had been unfair to Lansdowne.

The forfeits are "the first time anything fair has happened in life," Zimmerman said. "We had to play a doubleheader Saturday, and that other team [Loch Raven] didn't, and we still lost by only a run. And they got a bye. We didn't. We played our hearts out, and we deserved this."

He pulled his first three-run blast to left field in the third inning off a fastball, giving Lansdowne a 5-0 lead. For his second three-run home run in the sixth inning, he hit a curveball to right field.

"They wouldn't throw me any more fastballs after the first home run, so I knew a curve was coming and took it the other way," Zimmerman said.

Lansdowne also had clutch two-out, two-run singles from Cliff Zimmerman in the second inning and from Willie Pack in the fourth. Pack went 3-for-3 with three RBIs.

Lansdowne starter Josh Sammons allowed eight hits and walked three, but he almost always came up with a key strikeout, or his teammates produced a key defensive play to keep Howard off the scoreboard.

"Everything we hit they caught, and their hits found the holes," Howard coach Rich Jenkins said. "Our starter [Dave Curry] is a control pitcher and was a little rusty from a week's layoff. But their hitters came through with the big hits, and ours didn't."

Jenkins thought the game's key play from his team's standpoint was in the third inning after Lansdowne had gone ahead 5-0. Howard (10-13) had the bases loaded with one out, and the Lions' top hitter, Anthony Aceves, was at bat. Aceves hit a shot up the middle, but Sammons snagged it and turned it into a double play.

Howard scored its only runs in the fifth inning off a two-run single by Aceves. Rob Fink had two hits for the Lions, who had upset River Hill and Centennial in the playoffs before losing to Atholton.

"I feel badly for what happened to Loch Raven and Atholton, but I feel good for my kids," said Lansdowne coach Dave Wright, a 26-year veteran who coached a state champion at Milford Mill in 1984. "We're a young team, but we feel we have the best team in Baltimore County."

Pub Date: 5/23/98

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