Westminster vaults over Liberty in 9, 4-3

Scheffel's single scores Buckman with tiebreaker

Baseball

High Schools

April 09, 2002|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Over the winter, Westminster's Mike Scheffel tried his hand at the pole vault, and quickly became one of the area's best.

Yesterday, with the Owls baseball team embroiled in a tie game in the ninth inning against Liberty, the junior rose to similar heights, only this time with a much shorter stick.

Scheffel's one-out single to center scored Matt Buckman with the winning run, as the host Owls came back to top the Lions, 4-3, in a Carroll County and Central Maryland Conference game.

"I was trying to keep my weight back and come through for the team," said Scheffel, who had one of two hits in the inning off Liberty starter Jon Bruce. "We finally started to time his slower pitches."

The hit ended a classic battle between two of the county's top teams, marked mainly by good pitching and nearly flawless defense.

"It was just two great teams going out here toe-to-toe in clutch situation after clutch situation," Westminster co-head coach Bryan Harman said. "We finally were able to do something in the bottom of the ninth. Emotionally, this was a big win for us."

After Westminster (5-1 overall, 2-0 CMC and county) took a 2-0 lead with single runs in the first and third, courtesy of an RBI double and sacrifice fly by Xavier-bound Sean Brewer, Liberty (3-2, 1-1, 0-1) answered with three runs on five straight singles off starter Jason Thayer in the fifth.

The Owls then tied the game in the sixth when Jared Imhoff singled, took second on Liberty's lone error, a mishandled grounder to third, went to third on a bloop single and scored on Buckman's sacrifice fly.

Though Westminster co-coaches Harman and Guy Stoll decided to lift Thayer in favor of Brewer in the eighth, Liberty coach Erik Barnes stuck with Bruce, who had looked strong in scattering six hits over eight innings.

"I strongly considered taking Jon out after the eighth," Barnes said. "He said he felt good and he still had a lot of pop on the fastball. He's a three-year starter, and he knows his body better than I do. I don't think Jon did anything wrong. They just started hitting the ball where we weren't."

Buckman led off with a sharp single to center and took second on a sacrifice, setting the scene for Scheffel.

"We told them before they went out the last time, `The first good pitch you see, let's get it,' " Harman said.

The right fielder did just that, lining a hanging curve into center for the walk-off win.

For Harman, who coached Liberty from 1982 to 1993, the game marked the first time he had coached against his former team.

"I'm not going to lie and say I didn't think about it today, because I did," he said.

"I told our kids that we knew Westminster was good. This was an opportunity for us to come over here and kind of say, `Don't forget about us,' " Barnes said. "I'm never happy with a loss, but I'm happy with the way we played."

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