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One isn't a lonely number

High-tension games prep area's best for postseason run

High-tension games prep area's best for postseason run

May 10, 2002|BY DAN SPEARS

dans@herald-mail.com

Fans crave it. Players love it. Coaches, no matter how much they won't admit it, just can't stand it.

That down-to-the-wire, edge-of-your-seat thriller of game became the rule, not the exception, in 2002 for the Tri-State's baseball and softball teams.

And as the playoffs get into full gear in all three states this weekend, just about all the favorites have had more than their fair share of one-run games this season.

"I don't know (why), I guess that's just the way it is," Walkersville pitcher Mike Mullinix said. "But it makes things interesting."

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It made the Monocacy Valley Athletic League a wild ride on both the baseball and softball sides. It first kept the Waynesboro baseball team out of things in the Mid Penn Commonwealth, then put the Indians right into the playoffs.

But why the rash of fantastic finishes? Easy, nobody stinks.

"It's a bunch of good teams with good pitching and they're all fundamentally sound," Catoctin baseball coach Mike Franklin said. "Plus, I think you'll have a hard time finding tougher coaches to go against. The guys in this league have seen everything."

"It says a lot about the kids," Waynesboro baseball coach Greg Chandler said. "And it's a good thing. There's a lot of excitement."

For example:

n On April 18, the Clear Spring baseball team won a suspended game with Hedgesville with a three-run homer in the top of the ninth inning, then turned around and won the nightcap with a grand slam in the seventh inning.

A week later, Eagles coach Ben Merica said his team still hadn't recovered; they finally pulled to .500 on the final game of the regular season. The Blazers have won six of seven since.

n The Frederick softball team won its county tournament title behind three one-run victories. The Cadets have also played six extra-inning games this season - and won five of them.

"Pure and simple, it's the senior leadership we have," Frederick coach Dave Blumenthal said. "Once we're in a pressure situation, they pick up shoulders and say, 'We can do this.'

"It's almost as if we're not in a pressure situation, we're not in the game. They thrive in pressure situations."

n Walkersville's baseball team fell behind in the MVAL picture with back-to-back one-run losses. The Lions got back into it when Boonsboro lost back-to-back-to-back one-runners in the season's final 10 days.

In the eight games matching the league's top four teams, five of them were one-run affairs.

"It's starting to eat at me; I don't know about the rest of them," Boonsboro coach Fred Krieger said after a Monday loss at Catoctin, which may end up being overturned. "You think you'll be the one that finally comes out on top of this, but then you don't."

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Today, that's the mentality for everyone. It's one and you're done, so getting those one-run mistakes out of the way early is the best way to win down the road.

"You build a lot of character in those games," Chandler said. "A lot of situations comes up: bunt covers, should you hold the runner on, sacrifice bunts, a lot of execution plays. It puts you in that tournament mode early in the season."

"It's pretty good," Mullinix said. "In the playoffs, you've already got that experience. You know you can come back if you have to."

"That's what you'll see in the playoffs," Blumenthal said. "That experience alone ... whether you were on the winning or losing side in the regular season, if you can draw on that, you'll be fine."

Dave Blumenthal

Any time you can put sr. in leadership role with that experience, when they can rely on that and transfer that to the juniors ... that's fabulous. The fr. can look up to that, "I'm not going to get nervous."

Hey this is nothing ...

Having that Talked to srs and said, 'have big shoulders.' you're going to have to carry the weight of this team. With this core group and three freshman into the equation.

You can't go without saying Candy on the mound, you can count on ... in that sit. She'll pitch smart, Joyce will call smart and put girls in places they'll do their best.

Not the sit, but they enjoy pressure of the moment and enjoy the limelight. A 10-0 game, take for granted. But they see pressure, and they did so many times, it almost became second nature, 'Hey, no big deal.' Never saw them in eighth inning ... it's like their heads rose to the different level. Knock this out and let's go.

One and done?

In a wild and woolly season of close games, some teams have fared very well in the clutch, and others have not. Here's a run down of some area playoff teams' results in one-run and final-inning affairs.

The final at-bat category represents games that were decided in the final at-bat, but by more than one run.

One-runFinal

gamesat-bat

Baseball

Boonsboro 3-32-0

Catoctin 3-22-1

Chambersburg 3-20-0

Clear Spring 1-22-0

5-20-0

Martinsburg 5-31-0

Smithsburg 2-00-0

Walkersville 5-40-0

Waynesboro 3-32-0

One-runFinal

gamesat-bat

Softball

Berkeley Springs 3-10-0

Catoctin 3-30-1

Clear Spring 1-41-0

Frederick 6-22-0

Hancock 3-10-1

Waynesboro 3-20-0

Williamsport 4-00-0

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