Zabel gets Hebron half-game up in race

Pitcher throws 6-hitter, tags out the would-be tying run for River Hill


High School

May 07, 2002|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

John Zabel strengthened his bid to be the Howard County Player of the Year yesterday.

The Mount Hebron Viking led his team to a tense and crucial 4-3 victory over host River Hill that gave the Ellicott City team a half-game lead over Atholton entering the final week of the regular season.

The No. 7 Vikings (14-5 overall, 13-4 league) have one game to play, and No. 6 Atholton has two.

Zabel doubled in the second inning, hit a two-out, three-run triple in the third inning, pitched a six-hit complete game in which he didn't walk a batter and tagged out the would-be tying run at the plate after a passed ball in the sixth inning.

"I saw the passed ball and didn't think he [runner] would go," said Zabel, who made a high tag on the sliding runner. "He hesitated or he would have been safe easily. It was a real close call. I'll take it."

The play ended a two-out, bases-loaded threat.

Zabel escaped another tense situation in the bottom of the seventh inning, after River Hill's leadoff batter reached on an error.

Zabel struck out the next batter, one of four strikeouts. Then, he had the runner picked off, but Ken Giliam beat the rundown back to first base.

As Gilliam stole on the next pitch, River Hill batter Jeff Marquart was called out for obstruction.

"The umpire said the batter squared to bunt and was out of the batter's box," said River Hill coach Rick Lloyd.

Mount Hebron catcher Adam Grap, whose throw was way wide left said: "I bumped his [Marquart's] right shoulder with my left shoulder. I didn't see if he was out of the box."

About the passed ball in the sixth inning, Grap said: "It was a fastball outside that ran away from me and hit the padding of my thumb. Zabel made a sweet play to get there in time and make the tag."

Lloyd said: "Zabel is a competitor. He pitched a great game."

Although all three runs for River Hill (9-10, 8-9) were unearned in the fourth inning, when the Hawks rallied with two outs and no one on base, Zabel received some excellent defensive play from shortstop Andrew McSkimming throughout the game and an excellent running catch in left field by Andrew Hoffner in the fifth inning.

Andrew Duzor hit a two-out, game-winning single in the sixth inning, driving home Jordan Moore who had reached on a single.

"Zabel hasn't given up an earned run in three games," said Vikings coach Matt Forsyth, whose Raiders must defeat Wilde Lake tomorrow to clinch at least a tie for the county title.

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