FREDERICK - Any time a Carroll County baseball team can leave Thomas Johnson with a win under its belt it has to be feeling pretty good.
Such was the case yesterday when the Westminster Owls battered the Patriots with a 13-hit attack that produced a 9-4 victory and kept the Owls' record (2-0) perfect.
Thomas Johnson (1-3) is a team that has made it to the regional finals seven of the last nine seasons, earning respect as a top-flight program. The Patriots defeated baseball power Mount St. Joe earlier this season, before losing to Jefferson and North Carroll.
"TJ usually has a good club," said Rafe Bridges, who pitched the final four innings for Westminster, striking out six batters and allowing one hit. "I couldn't get my curve over today, but I was hitting spots with my fastball."
Bridges is expected to be one of the Owls' pitching stalwarts after a 4-1 record last season. He's a 6-foot-2, 205-pound right-hander playing his third varsity season.
"He has all the tools," said Westminster coach Jimmy Rodriguez. "One thing he still needs is confidence, and once he gets that, he'll do amazing things. The only reason he didn't start today was because he's been sick with a sinus infection."
Sean Brewer started and went three innings, allowing four hits and three runs.
The Owls staked Brewer to a three-run lead in the first inning on three straight singles by Jesse Alvarez, Scott Evelius and Matt Buckman. A Thomas Johnson error, an RBI groundout by Eddie Ashwell and an RBI single by Ryan Baer produced the runs.
Westminster added a single run in the second inning and three runs in the third inning, the latter rally ignited by Ashwell's leadoff triple.
Alvarez went 3-for-5 and Ashwell 2-for-4. Baer and Howie Ward also each had two hits. Baer had two RBIs. Ward's triple knocked in a run in the sixth.
"Alvarez is a leader who has a lot of confidence and discipline at the plate," Rodriguez said. "He got behind 0-2 in the count once, and still drove the ball up the middle for a base hit."
Despite Thomas Johnson's poor start, Patriots coach Jim Foit said he likes the talent on his team. "We have some pitching depth, but we are young with only five seniors," Foit said. "This is a better team than we had last season, but it's hard to play from behind like we've been doing. We're still hoping we can turn it around."