Perry Hall runs out of gas in final, 3-1

Glen Burnie captures 1st title behind Hecker

Class 4A baseball

May 30, 1999|By Pat O'Malley | Pat O'Malley,SUN STAFF

The amazing, late-season run by the young Perry Hall Gators ended in a tough 3-1 loss to Glen Burnie in yesterday's Class 4A state baseball final at Joe Cannon Stadium in Harmans Park.

"They came a long way from a young JV team moving up to the varsity this season," said Perry Hall's second-year coach Elmer McCann.

"We only had two seniors on the field today, our pitcher [Dan Markley] and third baseman [Brian Hodgson]. I told them from the beginning of the year we would be here. Over the last 10 games, it all started coming together and our kids played like seniors."

In making their sixth appearance in the 4A final during the 1990s, the No. 15-ranked Gators got a well-pitched game from Markley. But No. 12 Glen Burnie's rubber-armed Tim Hecker proved to be a little better.

"Dan pitched the game of his life today, but their pitcher mixed it up," McCann said. "He had three different pitches [fast ball, curve, change], and we haven't seen too many with three pitches. And they took advantage of our mistakes."

Hecker (11-1) scattered seven hits -- three by Gators second baseman Chris Pike and two by Hodgson -- and faced one serious jam. The Gopher right-hander struck out seven and did not walk a batter in running his playoff totals to 27 2/3 innings in 13 days, compiling four wins and a save in the Gophers' five postseason wins.

Glen Burnie (18-7) won Anne Arundel County's 13th 4A title and 19th overall since the state tourney began in 1975, and denied the Gators' their fourth state crown. Baltimore County is second only to Anne Arundel with 13 state titles.

The Gators last won the state crown in 1994 and were runners-up to Arundel in 1995. Perry Hall came into the playoffs at 8-11 but won four in a row in the postseason, including a 9-8 upset of favored Dulaney in the North region final to finish 12-12.

"Our guys have come a long way and deserve to be ranked where we are," Markley said. "Over the last eight games, this team has come together dramatically."

Markley, one of only two senior starters, showed he was much better than the 1-5 record he brought into the final. He scattered seven hits, struck out four, walked two and hit a batter on 99 pitches (57 strikes) in six innings.

Glen Burnie scored a run in the second inning on back-to-back doubles by Matt "Hooter" Smith and freshman right fielder Keith Williams.

Markley then buckled down and left Williams stranded. The Gators tied it up at 1-1 in the top of the fourth on a George Kastanaras grounder with the bases loaded to score designated hitter Brian Vecchioni.

The run snapped a string of 16 2/3 scoreless innings by Hecker in the playoffs.

Hecker showed signs of tiring in the fourth, but relied on heart and location to escape further damage.

"I pitched a lot of innings this year and made the pitches when I had to today," said Hecker, who threw 71 percent of his pitches (64-for-90) for strikes.

Never really in trouble from the fourth inning on, Hecker got the shot of adrenalin he needed when his teammates regained the lead in the bottom of the fourth on a perfectly executed suicide squeeze by Andy Bonn.

Williams' single to right in the sixth gave the Gophers a huge insurance run.

Perry Hall left one runner on in each of the fifth, sixth and seventh innings. In their final at-bat leadoff hitter Robby Ibex doubled to right-center with two outs, but Hecker struck out sophomore Shawn Warner swinging on a 1-2 pitch to end it.

"It can't be any sweeter than this," said Hecker, who tossed his glove into the air after the final out as his teammates mobbed him on the mound. "This is the way to end your senior year."

One of the many alumni to enjoy the moment was former Glen Burnie All-Metro center fielder and California Angels minor leaguer Tony Dailey, whose team lost to eventual state champion Arundel in 1977.

"This is great to see our school finally win it," Dailey said. "We're all very proud."

Pub Date: 5/30/99

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