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Towson tames Lions in 2A final

May 31, 2000|By DAN SPEARS

HARMANS, Md. - The Walkersville baseball team got more than its fair share of bad breaks during Tuesday night's Class 2A championship game against Towson.

The Generals got all the close plays on the base paths, and the Lions watched as four Towson balls landed just inches fair for extra bases.

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And when the Lions lost their title defense, 7-5, they had lost their coach as well.

"My last game as head coach ... I really would have liked to go out with a win," said Paul Merrill, who is stepping down after 13 seasons at the Frederick County school.

The Lions (20-3) certainly had their shot. Walkersville touched Towson starter Mike Williams early, but couldn't put him down. Derek Krantz singled and scored with two outs in the first inning, but the Lions left the bases loaded.

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Then in the second, Robbie Brunner reached on an error and Krantz crushed a Williams fastball over the left-field fence for a 3-0 lead.

The lead seemed huge with Mike Mullinix (3-1) on the mound. The sophomore left-hander had taken over in the region final against Urbana and retired seven of the first eight he faced Tuesday before the Generals started making their own breaks.

"Mike pitched great," Merrill said. "They just got a bunch of bloopers down the line. The kids started yelling about it, but hey, that's baseball. They stuck their bats out and got some hits."

With one out and one on in the third, Williams threw his bat at an outside curve ball and it fell on the right-field line for a double. John Karsos reached on a botched squeeze play that still scored a run, and Jared Satterfield put another double almost on the same spot as Williams' ball for a 3-2 game. Andre Gardner's sacrifice fly tied it, and Kelly Land's soft single to right made it 4-3.

"(Mullinix) reminds me a lot of Jerry Koosman from the old Mets," Towson coach Bill Yosca said. "We knew we were going to have to get that outside pitch against him. We practiced it ... keeping our balance back, keeping our swing back. We knew he'd throw strikes, we just went and got them."

Williams (8-0) forced the Lions to strand the bases loaded again in the third, and despite already throwing 79 pitches, had the lead.

"We had him on the ropes, and I think that gave him a lift," Merrill said. "We had a chance to send him reeling, but we stood there and looked at a couple of strikes."

Towson (19-4) got three more in the fifth - two on Ryan Valeri's double that just rolled over third base - for a 7-3 lead before hanging on.

Walkersville got one in the sixth when Krantz walked and eventually scored on Alex Cardy's groundout, and then threatened in the seventh.

Alexander Dub led off with a walk, his third of the game, that finished Williams after 126 pitches. Gardner - who had thrown three no-hitters this season - relieved and allowed the tying run to the plate twice. Matt Hammond grounded out to score pinch runner Dustin Brashears to make it 7-5, but Brandon Saylor struck out as the Generals won their first state title and kept the Lions from their second in a row.

"We've played for the state title five times in my 13 seasons. But we've only won one ... that's a little frustrating," said Merrill, who leaves with a 201-77 record. "But, there aren't many people that can say they've been here five times. I guess that's a good thing."

Towson 7, Walkersville 5




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Williams, Gardner (7) and Goodwin. Mullinix, Auch (5) and Dub. WP - Williams (8-0). LP - Mullinix (3-1). S - Gardner. HR - W: Krantz (2nd, one on).

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