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Little things mean a lot for Gaels

April 30, 2002|BY DAN SPEARS

dans@herald-mail.com

After Monday's frostbite festival, cleverly disguised as a baseball game between St. Maria Goretti and Musselman, everyone agreed that the little things are what need you a win in a one-run game.

And yet it's rare that the little things include a 350-foot homer.

In this Apple Valley League game though, it constituted a breakthrough. Josh Carter's two-strike, two-out, two-run homer in the bottom of the sixth won the game for the Gaels, who survived a battle of missed opportunities for a 6-5 victory.

"You knew this had to break at some point," said Carter, who homered twice on the day. "Just the way things were going, you got that sense of urgency coming into those last innings."

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If either side was jumpy, it was only because they had frustrated themselves to the point of committing bodily harm. Both sides did a superb job of getting leadoff runners on base, but continually shot themselves in the foot once they got into scoring position.

Three homers in the first three innings - a solo shot by Jamie Widmyer and Carter's two-run homer in the third for Goretti, a third-inning grand slam by Musselman pitcher Brandon Combs - gave the Applemen (17-9, 4-6) a 5-4 lead.

But Musselman (17-9, 4-6) couldn't add any more and watched a nine-game winning streak end. The biggest disappointment came in the fourth, when it loaded the bases and had no outs with its 2-3-4 batters up. The Applemen did not score.

"Those are the types of things you've got to take advantage of to win a game," Musselman coach Jeff Cunningham said. "We didn't make the plays to get it done."

Goretti (10-8, 5-4) matched them miss for miss until the sixth. Carter, who hits from the left side, was up with Justin Staubs on second and down in the count. But his blast to left center - not the Gaels' infamous short porch in right field - won it.

"You know, I've never hit a homer here to right," Carter said. "But (Combs) wasn't doubling up on anything. I fouled off a curveball the pitch before, so I knew it'd be a fastball. I was just looking for a zone and got it."

TIm Kellinger bailed the Gaels out of one final jam in the seventh, getting back-to-back strikeouts after the Applemen put the tying and lead runs into scoring position.

"(Combs) has done a lot of good things late in games for us," Cunningham said. "I don't think we were as focused as we have been lately, but that's OK. We'll just start a new winning streak tomorrow."

"Tim's really done a job for us. He says he's not a pitcher, but he's really stepped up," Goretti coach John Sechler said. "But the thing I told them was, 'Hey, if that fence isn't like 320 (feet), we don't score today.' ... You can't usually do that against a good team like Musselman, but we were fortunate today."

Goretti 6, Musselman 5

Musselman 0140000-5103

Goretti 112002x-692

Combs and D. Miller. Carter, Kellinger (6) and Cobb, Staubs (6). WP-Kellinger (2-2). LP-Combs (4-4). HR-M: Combs (3rd, three on); G: Widmyer (2nd, none on), Carter 2 (3rd, one on; 6th, one on).

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