Reservoir edges No. 5 Atholton in battle of undefeateds

Gators stake claim for Howard County baseball title with 2-1 win

April 15, 2011|By Andrew Conrad, The Columbia Flier

Reservoir gained the inside track to the Howard County title Friday afternoon with a 2-1 win at No. 5 Atholton, the defending Class 3A East regional champion. The Gators (10-0) are now the last undefeated team in the league.

Atholton lefty Jon Thews (seven strikeouts, seven hits), making his first start of the season, and Reservoir's T.J. Pipik (four strikeouts, five hits) staged a classic pitcher's duel, each going the distance.

The game ended when Thews tried to score the tying run from second on a single to left by Jordan Thompson, but was thrown out at home by left fielder Ben Summers. Catcher Kevin Alexander fielded the throw on the fly a few feet inside the diamond and sprawled back toward the plate to tag Thews as he attempted a hook slide.

"That was our chance and we took the chance, because you may not get another chance," Atholton coach Kevin Kelly said. Summers "had to make a perfect throw, he did, and it comes down to execution."

Reservoir scored the first run of the game in the top of the sixth after bunt singles by Lee Lawler and Pipik, a sacrifice bunt by Geoff Stone and a pair of grounders to third. Lawler's bunt broke up a string of 13 consecutive outs by Thews. Atholton (8-1) tried to get an out at home on both grounders, but came up empty each time. On the first, Lawler was caught in a rundown between third and home, but dove safely back to third. On the second, Lawler beat the throw home after a dribbler off the bat of Kevin Alexander.

The Gators added an insurance run in the top of the seventh when a two-out RBI single by Stone plated Danny Klein.

Atholton's rally in the bottom of the seventh began when Paul Beers drew a lead-off walk — Pipik's only walk of the game — on a tough, eight-pitch at-bat. Thews followed that with a single, and then a successful sac bunt by Paul Burmester and a sac fly to left by Jake Yasenka pushed Beers across the plate. Thompson then drove a base hit through the left side of the infield, but Summers fielded the ball cleanly and made a strong throw home to end the game.

"Ben's throw from left field was amazing," Pipik said. "But we're a well-rounded team and everybody can play, and that's why everyone is on the team. … Everybody contributes every game. Everybody does their job and when we do our job we win games"

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