Fowler powers Hagerstown Ponys to title, World Series berth

August 10, 1998|By BOB PARASILITI

Rick Suder won't remind anyone of George Patton, but he and the World War II hero both had very sound game plans.

Basically, win a lot of little battles and win the war. Or in Suder's case, take care of the innings and the game will take care of itself.

Suder's Hagerstown Gray won four of the five innings played on Sunday, including a fifth which featured a salvo of three home-run bombs, to vanquish Waynesboro, Pa., 15-5 and win the Pony League East Zone Tournament at Funkhouser Park.

"We just came out and did our jobs," said Hagerstown's Danny Fowler, who led the Gray by going 4-for-4, including two home runs and six RBIs. "We just wanted to come out and beat them in every inning. If we did that, we knew there was no way we couldn't beat them in the game."


The victory moves Hagerstown Gray into eight-team Pony League World Series, which starts next weekend in Washington, Pa., and avenges Saturday's 13-3 loss to Waynesboro. It's the eighth time Hagerstown will represent the East Zone in the World Series, the first since 1995.

Hagerstown outscored Waynesboro in the first, second and fourth innings to take a 6-2 lead behind the pitching of Derek Haines. But Joey Wetherald, A.J. Freelove and Jesse Capino each ripped solo home runs in the top of the fifth to cut the advantage to one run and throw down the challenge.

Hagerstown equaled Waynesboro's three-homer inning, driving in seven runs with them to swamp the West Region representatives. Hagerstown scored nine runs in the inning to close out the game and the championship by the 10-run rule.

"I told them they had to win the innings, especially since we were the home team," said Suder, still soaked from his celebratory water cooler bath. "We had to answer them (in the fifth). We knew it. If we didn't, the momentum would have switched to their side. The team did a good job of concentrating for each at-bat. I'm extremely proud of the way they stood in there and swung the bats."

Aaron Showe singled to start the parade of 13 Hagerstown batters to the plate. After Matt Johnson's double to left-center field, Fowler blasted his second homer of the game, this one to dead center field to tie Waynesboro's big inning with one swing of the bat.

"He just hung a curve and I kept my head down on it," said Fowler, who went 9-for-13 (.692) in the tournament. "I was just seeing the ball well the whole tournament and went up there trying to drive the ball."

When it came down to it, Waynesboro ran out of pitching, using five pitchers on Sunday. Aces Freelove and Ethan Rager were ineligible to work in the game by Pony League rules used to protect pitchers.

Frankie McAllister and Sal Mauriello followed Fowler with two-run home runs to push Hagerstown to a 13-5 lead. Fowler and John Quail provided RBI singles to close the game out.

Haines finished with 11 strikeouts despite allowing three walks and the three home runs that led to all of Waynesboro's scoring. Johnson was also 3-for-3 in Hagerstown's 17-hit attack, while Quail and Showe finished with two hits each.

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