Fans proud of South Mountain team despite loss

August 01, 1997


Staff Writer, Charles Town

Marty Kaetzel played with a hard-charging, reckless abandon at shortstop, but after his South Mountain Little League baseball team lost Friday night, he had to fight back the tears.

"It's always tough losing," said Kaetzel, 12.

Still, Kaetzel and the other boys had a lot to be proud of as they were the first South Mountain team to make it to the Maryland championship game.

They lost the championship Friday night to St. Mary's American 6-0 at the National Little League Field at Staley Park in Hagerstown.


The game drew more than 1,800 people, many of them southern Washington County residents with no relationship to the players on the field other than living in the same area.

"They supported us good," Kaetzel said. "They sing their `Coming Round the Mountain' song for us."

The field was surrounded by parents and fans, many sitting on lawn chairs around the outfield and others packed into the bleachers.

Joe Robeson, 63, of Hagerstown, said he knows many of the boys' parents from his days when he was the Boonsboro High School principal.

"I enjoy following the young people," he said as he watched from behind a picnic table behind center field.

In most years, Washington County's Little League baseball has been dominated by the West End Little League teams.

This was the first year that the South Mountain Little League had advanced to the state championship and several residents said it was as exciting as when the Boonsboro High School football team won the state championship in 1993.

"Right now they could rob Boonsboro blind because no one is home," said Ginger Bigelow, 45, of Boonsboro.

Bigelow did not have any children on the team, but her three sons had played for the South Mountain manager, Delbert House, in the past. Her sons, ranging from a college senior to a 14-year-old were with her at the game.

"A lot of Little League coaches get into yelling at the kids. He's just the nicest guy. It's good to see him do so well," Bigelow said.

Bigelow said House treats the players nicely whether they are having a losing season or a winning season.

The Little League team helped draw the community together, she said.

"This town is always supportive of the kids and their athletics," Bigelow said.

Mike Banzhoff, 25, of Hagerstown, grew up in Boonsboro and attended Friday night's game out of old loyalty. He had played for the South Mountain Little League growing up.

"Down in Boonsboro, they just love their sports," he said.

Debbie Reeder, 43, of Boonsboro, has invited the team over to her house for pizza and swimming parties. Her nephew plays for the team and she knows many of the boys from her work as an instructional assistant at Boonsboro Middle School.

"They're a great group of kids," Reeder said.

Reeder said that even though they lost the game Friday night, there will be other games for the boys in the future.

"Look at what Boonsboro High School will have when they are in the 11th and 12th grade," she said.

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