No. 5 Fallston steps up, takes down Bel Air, 5-3

Errors fuel late rally

Cougars erase 3-0 deficit


April 13, 1999|By Mark Hoeflich | Mark Hoeflich,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

One game wasn't going to settle anything that won't be settled in May.

But No. 5 Fallston's 5-3 win yesterday over 19th-ranked Bel Air did mean something, particularly for the host Cougars, even if the game didn't count in the Harford County League standings.

Foremost, Fallston (5-1) finally showed it measured up to its longtime rival -- after three straight losses to the Bobcats -- and proved worthy of its high ranking, which has surprised many in the metro area, including Fallston itself.

"A lot of my guys play with their players in the summer and Bel Air was out to get us," said Fallston coach Robert Limpert. "And a lot of my guys were motivated about it."

And the Cougars won behind some late-game heroics, as junior Steve Little drove in two runs with a double to right field in the bottom of the sixth to put Fallston ahead to stay, 4-3. Little's hit came after Matt Toomey singled to lead off the inning, moved to third on a wild pitch, and Mike Duncan reached on an error and stole second.

"The first two times up I got walked and when I came up again I wanted a hit and I swung at the first pitch," Little said.

Fallston also got a heartening performance from pitcher Justin Collins (1-1), a 6-foot-4 right-hander who lost two tight games to Bel Air last season. Collins allowed only five hits and struck out seven in the complete-game effort. More importantly, he didn't falter despite facing a 3-0 deficit entering the bottom of the fifth.

"I wanted this one more than any game we're going to play this year," said Collins, who retired the last seven batters he faced. "The whole team just came together there at the end and put the ball in play."

Bel Air starter Kyle George was just as sharp as Collins, but his defense failed him in the fifth, as Fallston rallied for two unearned runs on one hit to pull within, 3-2.

George (2-1) allowed just two hits and was never threatened through the first four innings. But shortstop Shane Justis committed three errors in the fifth, extending Fallston's rally. Justis' first error proved most critical as he threw wide of first base on a potential inning-ending double play.

"Our defense collapsed on us," said Bel Air coach Mike Ennis, whose team gets a rematch with Fallston at home on May 3.

Said Limpert, "Their errors definitely gave us a little kick in the butt to get us moving. Once we got that first run we saw we could score and that they were beatable."

The Bobcats (5-1) scored single runs in the third and fourth innings -- Brian Lipski's force out and Justis' sacrifice fly -- to take an early lead, and appeared to be in good position after George's double in the fifth drove in Will Little to increase the lead to 3-0.

But George was left stranded at second, marking the third straight inning the Bobcats left a runner in scoring position.

Pub Date: 4/13/99

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