No foul play, Walkersville breaks past Centennial

Weak, short hit is pivotal in Eagles' 9-5 state loss

Class 2A baseball

May 30, 1999|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

Sometimes one play is remembered as the play that separated winner and loser.

For Centennial in its state championship game against Walkersville yesterday, that play was a fourth-inning dribbler down the third-base line that couldn't have gone more than 10 feet.

"We caught a lucky break on that dribbler," said Walkersville coach Paul Merrill, whose team tied the game at 1 on that hit and went on to win the state title over Centennial, 9-5.

Walkersville (21-3) had two outs and the bases loaded at the time. Centennial starting pitcher Steve Fredrick already had escaped serious jams in the first and second innings and appeared to be off the hook again when Lane Strobel struck the weak hit. Fredrick raced over, decided the ball would not roll foul, but threw too late to catcher Matt Deuchler as a run scored.

"It was going to stop dead and not go out," said Fredrick, whose record dropped to 10-4.

Merrill said: "That hit gave us a big lift. It broke the goose egg. You could feel our players sigh with relief, and then we came alive."

The next Walkersville batter, Nick Clabaugh, cleared the bases with a double. Pat Calloway followed that with a double and the Lions led 5-1.

Centennial had taken a 1-0 lead in the first inning on Matt Deuchler's RBI single.

"That was a tough dribbler, but if you put enough guys on, eventually something happens," said Centennial coach Ron Martin, whose team went 20-6 with a three-way share of the Howard County championship.

It was Centennial's third loss in the state final, and seventh disappointing trip to the final four. The Eagles are still looking for their first state title.

"We needed to score more in the first four innings," Martin said. "Their big lefty [6-foot-4 Matt Doyle] did a nice job."

Doyle pitched in the state title game two years ago as a sophomore and did not start a game this season until the playoffs because of an arm injury.

"We thought Centennial was a very polished team and knew we'd have our hands full," Merrill said. "Fredrick keeps it down and hits spots. But he's done a lot of throwing for Centennial, and we hoped to get him deep in the count and wear him down. That may be what happened."

Fredrick said: "My arm felt fine, but a couple of times I got pitches up and their hitters hurt me. They were pesky hitters. My curve was better than usual, but I fell behind on some counts, and they sat on my fastball."

The title was Walkersville's second but first since 1978.

The Lions finally ended Fredrick's pitching afternoon in the fifth inning after the first four batters reached on two singles and two errors -- one by Fredrick on a throw to first base.

Chris Tiedemann relieved and got two ground balls for outs. But Clabaugh doubled in Walkersville's fourth run of that inning before Calloway flied out.

Centennial rallied for two runs in both the sixth and seventh innings off Walkersville relievers.

Shawn Cudzilo singled, Ryan Barwick tripled and Steve Lazarewicz drove in a run with a groundout in the sixth inning. In the seventh inning, Tiedemann walked, Deuchler singled and went to third on an error as Tiedemann scored. And Cudzilo hit a sacrifice fly for the final run.

Deuchler and Mike Martin each had two hits for Centennial.

Baseball

State finals

Yesterday's results

Class 1A

Glenelg 12, Williamsport 2

Class 2A

Walkersville 9, Centennial 5

Class 3A S. Carroll 8, Leonardtown 1

Class 4A

Glen Burnie 3, Perry Hall 1

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