Zabel's 1-hitter leads Hebron win

Vikings top Atholton, 4-1, move into first place

Baseball

High Schools

April 11, 2002|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

Mount Hebron pitcher John Zabel has a reputation for being laid back.

Yesterday, he came within one out of pitching a no-hitter against No. 14-ranked Atholton. His reaction when he gave up a home run with two outs in the seventh inning to Chris Trigger - making the final score 4-1 - was almost imperceptible. He didn't even watch the ball's flight.

"I didn't know until after the game that I was pitching a no-hitter," said Zabel (4-0) after walking three, hitting one and striking out five. "Honest. I was just aiming for a shutout. I wish I had that pitch back. It was a high, inside fastball."

His fastball was the only pitch he had working against the Raiders (6-2, 4-2 Howard County), a team that shut out Mount Hebron twice last season and one that was a preseason co-favorite with Centennial to win the county title this season.

Instead, Mount Hebron (6-2, 5-1) found itself alone in first place after yesterday's games. Long Reach's upset of Howard knocked the Lions (5-3, 4-2) out of a would-be tie for first.

"He had great location," Atholton coach Kevin Kelly said of Zabel. "And I assume his ball had some movement to it, because we were hitting it off the handle. We only hit two balls hard, and that's a credit to him."

Zabel worked fast and wasn't afraid to throw inside on batters. Late in the game, Kelly urged his players to take their time and try to disturb Zabel's rhythm.

What might have disturbed some pitchers were the three infield errors the Vikings made in the second and third innings, when Atholton threatened by putting two runners aboard in each inning.

Zabel didn't crack. He struck out Trigger to end the second inning and got Vyt Rivers to fly out to end the third inning.

Then, he retired the next seven batters before issuing two walks in the sixth inning.

Nick Hoffner and Andrew McSkimming each went 2-for-3 for Mount Hebron. Hoffner had an RBI single in the third inning.

Zabel led off the three-run fourth inning with a single. He scored on Chris Maruyama's single. McSkimming finished the rally by hitting a two-run double off Atholton starter Steve Merson (1-2), who pitched a six-hitter, struck out five, walked one and hit one.

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