South Carroll cruises to championship, 8-1

Leonardtown no match for Woodard, offense

Class 3A baseball

May 30, 1999|By Derek Toney | Derek Toney,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

For all the season-long accolades about its talented pitching staff and potent offense, South Carroll understood that last night's state championship game against Leonardtown would be its defining moment.

The Cavaliers lived up to the hype.

No. 2-ranked South Carroll won its first state title, 8-1, over its opponent from St. Mary's County at Joe Cannon Stadium in Harmans.

South Carroll (21-4) made it three titles for Baltimore area teams in the finals. Glen Burnie (4A), Glenelg (1A) and Centennial (2A) won titles yesterday.

The memory of last season's 1-0 loss to Thomas Johnson in the West region semifinals can be extinguished, as well title-game losses in 1981 and 1995. The Cavaliers became the third team from Carroll County to claim a state championship.

They did so in resounding fashion, scoring four runs in the opening inning and getting a two-hitter from Brandon Woodard.

Woodard, part of South Carroll's dynamic staff of Division I prospects, struck out 14 batters and walked six, to improve to 8-1.

"He's a starting pitcher," said South Carroll coach George Richardson. "He warms up on the side, then he comes out ready to pitch."

With a host of pro and college scouts in the stands, Woodard didn't allow a hit until the fourth inning. Leonardtown's only run came in the fifth inning as Ron Abgill couldn't come up with Ben Carr's low throw from third, allowing pitcher Mike Shutty to score.

"I really don't believe it," said Woodard, a senior being recruited by Mount St. Mary's, Salisbury State, Shippensburg and Hagerstown Junior College. "The team was phenomenal hitting the ball. Kevin's [Damiano] bomb really got us going."

Damiano slammed a two-run homer in the opening inning, following the formula that has carried the Cavaliers all season: Get an early lead and let the pitching do the rest.

The Cavaliers, who were hitting .388 as a team, went to work immediately against Shutty, Leonardtown's right-handed starter. With one out, Jason Torangeau walked. On the next pitch, Damiano crushed a fastball 390 feet to right center for a 2-0 lead.

Carr followed with an opposite-field single. After Chris Vasse fouled out, Eric Laverick singled through the hole to left. A wild pitch by Shutty allowed Carr and Laverick to move up to third and second, respectively.

Abgill hit a grounder to second baseman Scott Raley that took a high hop. Raley went up to get it, but the ball dropped out his glove. His throw to first was late, allowing Carr to score, and also Laverick, who never stopped running from second.

Given the four-run lead, Woodard struggled in the second, walking straight three batters, but he worked out of the inning. His form returned the next inning, when he struck out two and then cruised.

And so did South Carroll. The Cavaliers scored three more runs in the fifth inning as they finished with a nine-game winning streak and 15 wins in the final 16 games.

"We had some tough losses early, but it made us realize that nothing would come easy," said Damiano. "We never really felt pressure. We knew if we played our game, we would be successful."

After giving up eight runs to North Carroll in their first playoff game, the Cavaliers allowed only three in the next four triumphs.

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