Glenelg's baseball season ended yesterday just as it began -- with a last-inning rally from a four-run deficit -- and with victory.
The only differences were that yesterday's 6-5 victory over Southern-Garrett took one extra inning and earned the No. 4-ranked Gladiators a much-coveted Class 1A state championship trophy.
Glenelg pitcher Jeff Starcher stood out as the most prominent of several heroes. Starcher struck out 11 in a complete-game effort, went 3-for-4 and drove in two tying runs with a one-out, seventh-inning single.
But Dave Harris also went 3-for-4. He hit an RBI single in the fourth inning, and led off the bottom of the eighth inning by tripling on a 0-2 count off a high hanging curveball. Harris eventually scored on a game-winning infield single by Jon Hughes. It was Hughes' second straight game-winning hit.
"It didn't seem appropriate for our team to go out losing, so we got fired up and just did what we've done all season," Harris said. "To be that close to losing and to go from that feeling to winning is just amazing."
In victory, Glenelg (22-2) added to its proud baseball tradition a fourth state title, and third in six seasons. They also won in 1983, 1993 and 1995, and were state finalists in 1996.
Glenelg coach Tom Thrasher credited an eight-run, last-inning, opening-day rally against Hammond for pulling his team together and making it believe it could overcome any obstacle.
That belief was sorely tested in the playoffs when the Gladiators rallied in their last at bat three times in five games, won twice in extra innings, won three times by one run, overcame a five-run deficit against Catoctin in the regional finals and a nine-run deficit against Havre de Grace in the state semifinals.
"I thought we were really in trouble this time," Starcher said. "The way we've been coming back, we had to be destined to win."
Glenelg trailed Southern-Garrett 5-1 heading into the bottom of the seventh inning at Joe Cannon Stadium in Harmans.
Its reputation as a comeback team loomed large in the opposing dugout, however.
"I was uncomfortable even at 5-1 when they came to bat in the seventh inning. I knew they'd come back," Southern coach Jim Bosley said.
In the seventh inning Bosley pulled his starting pitcher, Chad Warnick, who had allowed just six hits and one run to a Glenelg team with an 11-run average and .390 team batting average.
Bosley replaced Warnick with Derek Everd. "Chad's arm was bothering him, and we had their No. 6-7-8 hitters coming up and they hadn't hurt us. I thought that if we could get the lead-off batter out, then we'd win."
But that lead-off batter, Tom Thrasher, singled off a 3-2 count. Jon Hughes and Jeremy Shry each walked to load the bases, and Bosley brought on his son, sophomore Josh Bosley, to try to halt the rally.
Instead, the young Bosley hit Jason Weszka, forcing home a run. Brandon Robertson grounded out to second base as another run scored.
Then Starcher hit an inside pitch sharply up the middle just beyond Everd's glove at shortstop, tying the game.
"I knew we'd win after that," Starcher said.
The Rams (16-5) scored single runs in the fourth and seventh innings, and three runs in the sixth inning off Starcher (8-1), who had been rocked for nine runs in the first inning of the state semifinal.
Southern's first run was unearned, and the next three, following a single, double and intentional walk, scored on a wild pitch, a squeeze bunt and another bunt.
"We didn't hit him," the elder Bosley said of Starcher. "He had a great performance and got better in the late innings. He had a very good curve and control."
Following Harris' eighth-inning lead-off triple, Southern intentionally walked Mike Rice and Thrasher to create a force play at home plate. But it didn't work out, as Hughes' hard smash spun around Southern's second baseman, forcing him to throw late to the plate.
Pub Date: 5/24/98