After three losses in two days, No. 7 Mount Hebron's baseball team faced a must-win game yesterday against defending Class 2A state champion Atholton and Vyt Rivers, its No. 1 starting pitcher.
With three of Mount Hebron's starting pitchers used up over the past two days, and a fourth starter sidelined by the flu, Vikings coach Matt Forsyth, in desperation, went with Andrew Duzor, a junior catcher/outfielder who had never pitched a varsity inning.
Duzor responded beyond Forsyth's wildest dreams by pitching a complete-game, six-hitter to beat eighth-ranked Atholton, 3-2.
Mount Hebron scored the winning run in the sixth inning on a double by Jeff Carr, a single by Mike Michalski and a sacrifice fly by Andrew Hoffner.
Duzor, meanwhile, ended the game by retiring Rivers on a line drive to shortstop Chris Hollenbach with runners at second and third. Rivers had doubled, singled and driven in two runs, while also pitching a six-hitter and striking out 10.
The victory kept alive Mount Hebron's fading hopes of repeating as Howard County champions, although it trails Glenelg and Centennial by two games in the loss column with a week to play.
"I've been bugging them to let me pitch," Duzor said. "This was a great rebound for us. It picked us up. I had a good feeling about today's game. And my arm felt great."
Duzor remembered missing a suicide squeeze bunt in an extra-inning, late-season loss to Atholton a year ago, and used that as motivation for his outstanding performance yesterday.
"I remember my picture was in the paper with my head down, and Atholton was celebrating in the background," said Duzor, who does not play on a summer baseball team.
Duzor threw fastballs and curveballs and matched Rivers almost pitch for pitch. They both struck out the side in the first inning.
The Vikings (10-4 overall, 7-4 league) went ahead 2-0 in the second inning on back-to-back singles by Michalski and Hoffner, a sacrifice bunt by Duzor, a passed ball by Atholton catcher Fred Graham and a sacrifice fly by Kevin Lambert.
A single and stolen base by Atholton shortstop James Conrad and a single by Rivers made it 2-1 in the third inning.
A bunt single by David Reshef and walks to Conrad and Branden Flannery loaded the bases for Atholton (10-6, 8-5) in the fifth inning. Rivers lined a one-hopper off the chest of shortstop Hollenbach, who recovered to get the forceout at second base as the tying run scored.
"After the past two days, our team was really down," Forsyth said. "It wouldn't have surprised me if we had lost 10-0 today."