Three homers in game make Walters' day

River Hill teammates cheer, tease happy hitter

High Schools

April 02, 2004|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

On a day of drenching rain, River Hill's baseball team practiced indoors yesterday, getting in their running by circling the hallways.

As they did, they razzed teammate Dave Walters every time they passed him while he was being interviewed by a reporter.

"Dongs - three of them," they yelled in unison.

They were referring to the school-record three home runs Walters hit Wednesday in a 12-1 victory over Hammond. He came up one short of the state record of four.

"Guys have been kidding me all day," Walters said. "They're saying two is amazing, but three is ridiculous."

Amazingly, they were the first home runs of Walters' varsity career, although he hit seven doubles and a triple while batting .465 and making first-team All-County last spring.

The 6-foot-1, 175-pound junior shortstop and pitcher broke out of a 1-for-8 slump by taking his father's advice.

"He told me to shorten my swing and go deeper in the count," said Walters, whose father arrived at the game in time to see his last two home runs.

Walters slugged the first one after Dan Konapelsky's double in the first inning. The second one, also off Hammond starter Brian Briggs, was another two-run shot with Konapelsky aboard. "He tried to bust me inside with a fastball," said Walters.

The third one was his longest - about 340 feet on Hammond's short field.

"A relief pitcher started me with two curves and then came right down the middle," said Walters, who walked in his other at-bat in the six-inning game.

His only other hit this season, a double, bounced off the top of the fence at River Hill. He is now 4-for-11 with seven RBIs and four extra-base hits.

He describes himself as a year-round baseball player, and he worked out with a private coach in the off-season.

"He helped me improve my changeup, my velocity and my location," said Walters, who traveled to Westminster for the tutelage.

Walters hopes the scoring barrage against Hammond will spark River Hill, which lost its first three games this season. The Hawks have now won two straight.

"I still believe we can turn the season around," he said.

Walters can't quite believe what he did Wednesday, however.

"I woke up this morning [Thursday] and thought it was a dream that I had hit three home runs," he said.

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