Chesapeake senior Chris Moore guides the Cougars to victory with powerful pitching and powerful leadership

Strong-arm tactics

May 09, 2007|By Alejandro Danois | Alejandro Danois,Special to the Sun

At baseball practice, Chesapeake senior Chris Moore laughs, smiles and jokes around with his teammates as they take turns shagging flies and taking swings in batting practice.

But when the 6-foot, 175-pound right-hander is given the baseball and walks to the mound to pitch, the carefree personality is nowhere to be found.

"When you put him on the mound, he's intense and gives you everything he's got," Chesapeake coach Jim Sims said. "He expects to pitch at his top level at all times."

For the better part of his high school baseball career, Moore has more than lived up to his lofty expectations. He had won 21 straight decisions, dating to his freshman year on the junior varsity, before losing to Arundel last week, and is 11-1 over the past two seasons.

"I like to win real bad," Moore said. "When I'm on the mound and get in a groove, I feel like nobody can stop me."

Last season, his first on varsity, he went 6-0 with a 1.58 ERA. Playing center field when he wasn't on the mound, he hit .431.

He was named first-team All-County as Chesapeake finished the season 18-6. The Cougars advanced to the regional finals, in which they lost, 5-3, to Arundel, who went on to win the state championship.

When the Wildcats jumped out to a lead in last year's playoff game, Sims summoned Moore from the outfield in the fourth inning to halt Arundel's offensive surge. He proceeded to strike out five of the eight batters he faced, but the Cougars could not overcome their early deficit and Tyler Hibbs, Arundel's All-Metro Player of the Year, who threw five innings of no-hit ball.

This season, Moore picked up right where he left off last year, winning five games in a row. His two-seam fastball has been regularly clocked at 85 mph. Though not overpowering, the pitch is highly effective because it looks like a cutter as it breaks away from the batter.

He also challenges hitters with a slider that resembles his fastball when it leaves his hand. The sideways movement of the ball, breaking across the plate at the last second, is perplexing to opposing batters.

This season, he incorporated a curveball into his repertoire and is currently working on a changeup, which tails away from left-handed hitters and comes inside on right-handers.

Struggling early at the plate this year, Moore has begun to settle into the rhythm he'd established last year and has his average up to .333. Against Arundel last week, he went 2-for-3, hitting two line drives - one up the middle and one through the gap between shortstop and third base - against its star pitcher, Hibbs.

He followed that up on Thursday by smacking two doubles against Meade in the Cougars' 8-0 victory.

"Earlier in the season, I was too nervous about my hitting and started getting down on myself," Moore said. "But I've eased up, and I'm starting to feel more comfortable now, like I was last year."

With his production as a hitter and pitcher, it's easy to lose sight of the attributes that don't show up on the stat sheet.

"Some days he may not have his best stuff, but he makes do with what he's got," Sims said. "He's pitched a lot of good games for us over the past two years and, even when he's not throwing the ball as well as he would like, he finds a way to win."

When asked about his strengths on the mound, Moore did not expound on his motion, mechanics or the number of pitches he can consistently throw for strikes. His one-word response is direct and succinct: "Leadership."

The ability to lead was in evidence off the field as well last week as Moore attained the rank of Eagle Scout, the Boy Scouts program's highest rank, which is achieved by about 5 percent of all Boy Scouts, according to the Boy Scouts of America's Web site.

On the baseball field, as well as in Boy Scouts, Moore, who plans to pitch at Dundalk Community College next year, has been successful setting and achieving goals.

One of those goals is to lead his team to a win every time he steps on the mound. With a few more opportunities to pitch this season, he's hoping to start a new unbeaten streak, one that leads deep into the playoffs.

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