Howard dispatches Atholton, 10-0, in five

Lions take 17th of last 18

King wins ninth game

Class 2A baseball

May 15, 1999|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

Howard's baseball renaissance continued in the opening round of the Class 2A South region playoffs yesterday with a 10-0, five-inning victory over No. 16-ranked Atholton.

Lions left-hander Tony King hurled a three-hitter for his third shutout and season's ninth win.

His teammates played errorless ball and broke the game open with a seven-run fourth inning.

No. 11 Howard, winner of its first Howard County title since 1979 and producer of its first winning season since 1988, thus captured its 17th victory against four losses. It was the Lions' 17th win in 18 games and eighth win by the 10-run slaughter rule. The Lions average 12 runs a game.

King (9-1), a 6-foot-4, 190-pound junior left-hander, was not as dominant as he has been in some games. He struck out 13 batters in a previous five-inning victory and has whiffed 87 batters in 55 previous innings.

Yesterday, though, he struck out only four batters, walked six, and made his team's only error on a pick-off attempt.

"I didn't have my curveball today, but I was able to make the big pitch when I had to, and our fielding was there," King said. "My second baseman [Kevin Pumphrey] saved me a couple of times."

King's biggest pitches came in the top of the fourth inning with two outs and the bases loaded. He fell behind 3-0 in the count against Brandon Merrell, who had doubled in the third inning, and Howard coach Rich Jenkins hurried to the mound.

"He was mad," King said. "He told me I wasn't following through and that he knew I could throw strikes."

With an Atholton fan waving a broom signifying a sweep, because the Raiders (11-9) already had defeated Howard twice this season, the pressure was on King, who responded by throwing two straight strikes.

Merrell then grounded a ball that looked as if it would get through the hole between first and second base. But Pumphrey made a good stop and threw to King covering for the out on a close play at first base.

Howard built a 2-0 lead on a first-inning single by John Brown and a sacrifice fly by Anthony Aceves in the third inning off Atholton starting pitcher Adam Beaver.

Howard pounded eight hits, five in a row, during the seven-run fourth inning in which 12 batters went to the plate.

Beaver "was leaving everything up that inning," said Aceves, who entered the game batting .566 with a 1.024 slugging percentage and .683 on-base percentage. Aceves, 2-for-2 yesterday, has scholarship offers Arizona, Texas, James Madison, Maryland and New Mexico State.

John Baker and Darren Monge led off the big inning with back-to-back singles. An error on a pick-off attempt by Beaver allowed a run to score. Rob Fink tripled home a run. With two outs, Richie Grantham and Aceves both hit RBI doubles. Brown hit his second RBI single. Mike Burke singled. And Baker finished the inning with a two-run single.

Pub Date: 5/15/99

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