Zabel, Mt. Hebron frustrate River Hill for third time, 5-0

Senior tosses two-hitter, helps Vikings advance to regional semifinals

Class 3A baseball

High Schools

May 15, 2002|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

County baseball champion Mount Hebron entered yesterday's quarterfinal Class 3A East Region playoff game against River Hill with more than the normal amount of concern.

The Hawks had proven to be one of the Vikings' toughest opponents this season after beating Mount Hebron twice last season. Mount Hebron beat them by one run in two previous encounters this spring.

The No. 6-ranked Vikings turned to John Zabel again, and the senior right-hander tamed the Hawks for the third straight time, 5-0.

The Vikings will play in the semifinals at Long Reach at 4 p.m. today

Despite two brief rain delays, this time Zabel pitched a complete-game two-hitter and threw only 68 pitches. The low pitch count will allow him to come back for Friday's regional final if the Vikings (16-5) can win today.

"Zabel never gave us chance," said River Hill coach Rick Lloyd. "He never let anyone get on base. He gets my vote for Player of the Year."

It was Zabel's fourth straight game without allowing an earned run. He walked one and struck out one.

"There was a rumor that they weren't allowed to swing at the first pitch, but they were swinging at it today," said Zabel, who pitched his third shutout and raised his record to 8-1.

He also contributed offensively with an RBI single in Mount Hebron's four-run third-inning that helped to drive River Hill starting pitcher Steve Cornelius out of the game.

Adam Grap's two-run double sparked the outburst.

Zabel had the Hawks hitting the ball on the ground. He fielded seven ground balls, and shortstop Andrew McSkimming handled seven more.

"McSkimming is definitely our unsung hero," Vikings coach Matt Forsyth said of his shortstop, who began the day hitting .353, third on the team behind Nick Hoffner and Zabel. "He does all the little things to win games and excels in every aspect of the game. He has 17 stolen bases."

River Hill (9-12) had two base runners in an inning only twice. Zabel gave up a two-out single to Dave Konapelsky and a walk to Wes McCoy in the first inning. Two Mount Hebron batters reached on errors in the fourth inning.

A leadoff double by Nick Hoffner led to Mount Hebron's final run in the fifth inning. He scored on a passed ball.

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