Mount Hebron's Grap good as word against Hammond

Pitcher convinces coach to leave him in in 8-5 win

Baseball

High School

April 25, 2002|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

Mount Hebron pitcher Adam Grap was on the ropes in the first inning against Hammond yesterday.

Four of the first five batters he faced reached base. He hit one, walked two, threw a wild pitch that allowed a run to score and gave up a two-run single to Joe Benedetti.

Vikings coach Matt Forsyth had seen enough, and walked to the mound to replace Grap, who normally catches.

Instead, Grap talked Forsyth into letting him continue pitching, and the 6-foot, 170-pound junior right-hander rebounded to complete all seven innings and notch an 8-5 victory at Hammond.

"I stared him down and told him no three times when he tried to take me out," Grap said. "And he finally told me, `All right, but you'd better do the job.' "

Grap, 3-0 with two saves in 23 innings, retired the next two batters to end the inning.

But he gave up a double to Kell Kulina and a home run to Adam Heffron (his fourth) in the second inning, as the league-leading No. 10-ranked Vikings fell behind, 5-1.

Then, he pitched shutout ball over the final five innings.

"I haven't pitched much this season and didn't feel good at first," Grap said. "I just tried to throw strikes and let them hit it, and my defense picked me up, making some nice plays. I relied on my curveball about 45 percent of the time and kept them off balance."

Mount Hebron (10-3 overall, 9-2 league) excelled defensively. John Zabel at shortstop and Andrew McSkiming at second base were almost flawless.

Zabel handled five ground balls smoothly, and McSkimming made four plays, including a tremendous running catch behind first base.

The two also combined on a doubleplay in the third inning. McSkimming made Mount Hebron's only error in the fifth.

Nick Hoffner in center field and Andrew Hoffner in left field also turned in outstanding catches against the fence.

Offensively, Zabel went 3-for-5 with two RBIs. He drove in Mount Hebron's first run with a one-out single in the first inning. His double in a six-run third inning also scored a run.

Nick Hoffner, who went 2-for-3, began that big inning with a double.

Hammond (8-5, 6-5) started Marcus Anders, who struck out nine batters in five innings, but walked six batters, threw four wild pitches and was the victim of three errors. Anders wild-pitched two runs home during the third inning.

Kevin Lambert hit a pinch-hit RBI single for Mount Hebron's final run in the fifth inning.

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