Merson's homer caps perfect day for Atholton, 10-0

First, last HR of his career ends final vs. Southern-AA in 5th

Revelle: three-hitter

Class 2A state baseball

High Schools

May 26, 2002|By Pat O'Malley | Pat O'Malley,SUN STAFF

Matt Revelle pitched yesterday with the same brilliance he has displayed all season. And for that, his Atholton teammates rewarded him with a short day and the Class 2A state baseball championship.

Steve Merson hit a home run he and his teammates will never forget in the fifth inning of the 2A final, capping the No. 3 Raiders' 10-0 victory over Southern of Anne Arundel County at Joe Cannon Stadium in Harmans.

Revelle, a senior right-hander, finished the season 12-1 by tossing a three-hitter, lifting Atholton (20-5) to its first baseball title and Howard County's seventh. Merson's home run on the Bulldogs (10-15) caused the 10-run rule to take effect, ending the game in the fifth.

The title came after the Raiders struggled early in what was considered to be Howard County's most competitive league in memory. Atholton closed by winning 14 of its last 15 games including its final six.

"For me it's great because a lot of these kids have been with me four years," said 12-year coach Kevin Kelly, whose Raiders came up short in the state final in 1994 and '96. "We essentially had a JV team playing against varsity teams [a couple of years ago], and we were getting 10-runned like crazy. To see them come this far is kinda neat."

Outfielder Joel Krueger went 3-for-3 with a triple and three RBIs and Revelle was 2-for-2 as the Raiders built a 9-0 lead after four innings.

The Raiders had scored two runs in the first and third and had a five-run fourth inning. Needing one run to end game, Merson led off the bottom of the fifth by launching the first pitch off reliever Brett Jones over the left-field fence.

The second Merson hit it, the huge, raucous throng of Atholton fans were on their feet cheering the ball over the fence. It was the first and last home run of his high school career.

"We've had that kind of support all season, and it really means a lot to us," Revelle said. "We feel the raucous environment is really tough for the other team and gives us the upper hand. Steve's home run was awesome to see."

The senior shortstop ran around the bases with his right fist in the air high above his head.

When the ball landed on the other side of the fence, the noise level of the Atholton crowd was deafening. As Merson came down the third base line, all his Raiders teammates were waiting for him at home plate, and they soon piled on to make a human mound.

"I wasn't trying to hit a home run, not at all," Merson said. "We were playing for one run, and I was just trying to get on base. I got a pitch to drive, and I just drove it out there."

Atholton was in that position because Revelle, who will attend Lafayette College in Pennsylvania on a baseball scholarship, added to his postseason acclaim by shutting out the Bulldogs.

On Tuesday in the state semifinals, Revelle pitched a three-hitter and struck out eight in a 9-2 victory over Easton of Talbot County. On May 17, he earned the save in the 2A West regional final. Yesterday, he struck out seven Bulldogs and walked one.

"I really felt I had a lot of command of my pitches," said Revelle, who throws primarily a fastball in the 82-83 mph range and a sharp, biting curve with an occasional changeup. "I came out of the bullpen before the game with a lot of confidence that I could throw anything over the plate."

Southern's starter, senior lefty Justin Shepherd (7-4), was knocked out in the five-run fourth in what was the school's first final since 1977.

"Our kids showed some heart during the season, you're looking at a team that was 3-10, battled and persevered [and] made a good run through the playoffs," said Southern coach Gary Gubbings, whose team was 4-12 in the Anne Arundel County league, composed entirely of 4A and 3A teams except Southern.

"We did about as well as we could in the situation we were given."

S 000 00 -- 0 3 2

A 202 51 -- 10 11 2

Shepherd, Jones (4) and Shirkey; Revelle and Trigger. 2B: A-- Rivers. 3B: A--Krueger. HR: A--Merson.

Class 1A

Boonsboro of Washington County rolled to an 11-3 victory over Catoctin of Frederick County in yesterday's Class 1A state final at Joe Cannon Stadium.

The victory gave Boonsboro (19-4) its second state title, the other coming in 1985, and spoiled the first final appearance for Catoctin (15-10).

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