Mt. Hebron's Zabel tops Hammond

Battling the cold, control, pitcher goes distance, 8-6

April 04, 2002|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

Hammond ended Mount Hebron pitcher John Zabel's string of 14 consecutive scoreless innings yesterday.

But Zabel, unbeaten in three starts, ended No. 13 Hammond's four-game winning streak by battling through unseasonably cold weather and some hot Hammond bats to claim a complete-game 8-6 victory.

The weather made playing conditions difficult. The temperature dropped from a high of 80 degrees into the 40's by game time. A light rain fell in the first three innings. And wind gusts to 30 mph dropped the wind chill into the 30's.

"I had trouble controlling the ball," said Zabel (3-0), who walked six, hit two and allowed nine hits while throwing 102 pitches.

Hammond starter Marcus Anders (1-1) also struggled with the weather. He walked five, hit three and allowed five hits before being relieved after the first three batters reached in the sixth inning -- two of them hit by a pitch.

That's the inning the Vikings broke a 4-4 tie by putting together a game-winning four-run rally that was highlighted by an RBI single from Andrew McSkimming and a two-run single by Adam Grap.

"I probably wasn't as mentally prepared for the weather as I should have been," Anders said.

Zabel, bothered more by the rain than the cold, said he wore shorts and a T-shirt to school, and during the game had only a light windbreaker to keep him warm. "I didn't wear it. It wasn't that cold," he said.

The 6-foot-1, 165-pound senior right-hander threw only fastballs that reached as high as 83 mph.

He surrendered an opposite-field triple to right field to Anders and an RBI single to Alex Prior in the fourth inning, when the Bears tied the game 2-2.

In the fifth inning, he walked three batters and gave up an RBI single to Anders. A second run scored on an error, giving Hammond a 4-2 lead.

The Vikings (4-1 overall, 3-0 league) wasted no time coming back. They scored two runs in the fifth inning on a walk by Steven Crow and singles by McSkimming, Nick Hoffner and Zabel.

Hammond (4-1, 2-1), which stranded 12 runners, threatened its own comeback in the seventh.

Anders led off with an opposite-field home run. Prior singled. Jeff Tobin hit a two-out RBI single. And Andy Heffron singled.

But Zabel retired Joe Benedetti on a fly to right for the final out.

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