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Warriors a No. 1 hit

May 28, 2002|BY DAN SPEARS

dans@herald-mail.com

HARMANS, Md. - Boonsboro baseball coach Fred Kreiger had a case of deja vu on Saturday during the Maryland Class 1A state championship at Joe Cannon Stadium.

This game, though, he'll enjoy watching over and over and over again.

His Warriors played spectacular defense, got solid pitching and hit the ball as well, if not better, than they had all season. By the end of the day, Boonsboro ended a 17-year title drought with a surprising 11-3 victory over a Catoctin team that pushed it to the limit in two earlier games this season.

"Our team, in these situations, we get so pumped up and just start coming after people," said Boonsboro right fielder Keith Kellinger, who went 3-for-4 with three RBI. "We wanted this bad. Everybody was on it today."

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The Cougars (14-11) started this one like their other outings against Boonsboro. They had held the Warriors to their two lowest offensive outings of the season - a 2-1 Boonsboro win and a 5-4 Catoctin win that was later forfeited - and stranded two Warriors in scoring position in the first two innings.

"They were doing it again to us," Kreiger said. "They jumped out with a run and we were hitting the ball hard, but right at people. That worried me."

His defense ended that in the top of the third. Catoctin scored in that inning on a beautiful two-strike suicide squeeze by Sam Kulceski to score Geoff Hillis, and the Cougars had two on and two out for their best power hitter, Chris LeGore.

On an 0-2 count, LeGore hammered a pitch to straightaway center. At Boonsboro High, the ball lands on the football field. At Catoctin High, it's in the trees.

"Yesterday, Coach said it's 410 in center field," Boonsboro center fielder Cody Hanes said. "I knew no one was taking it out of there today."

On this day, it fell amazingly into the glove of Hanes, who made a spectacular over-the-wrong-shoulder catch to end the inning.

"I knew he had hit it hard, I just had to get to a spot where I could pick it up," Hanes said. "I turned to the right first, saw it, then turned back the other way."

"What can you do, other than shrug your shoulders?" Catoctin coach Mike Franklin said. "It's a 405-foot out. A fantastic catch and a 405-foot out."

And it turned the tide of the game. Naturally, the guy that makes the big play in the field makes the big play at the plate, and Hanes beat out an infield single to lead off the bottom of the inning.

Nathan Himes bunted to move Hanes over, but it turned into a hit when the ball took a bad hop over Hillis's glove. Mike Fravel was hit to load the bases for Kellinger, the team's RBI leader.

"(Assistant coach Brian Smith) is always there for me," Kellinger said. "I went over to him when they called time and he said to hit the ball like I was in the (batting) cage. I just tried to make something happen."

He ended up breaking Catoctin's back. An inside fastball from T.J. Eiker turned into a two-run double that bounced off the right-field line just past second base for a 2-1 lead.

"I don't know if that catch made the difference. We were killing the ball," Hanes said. "I think either way, we were hitting the ball and going to score runs."

We'll never know if he's right or not, because the Warriors (19-4-2) began lighting up the scoreboard from there. A sacrifice fly by Nathan Kaetzel and singles by Marty Kaetzel, Dan Wisner and Derrick Metzger all knocked in runs in the inning for a 6-1 lead after three.

Kellinger's double and an error brought in two runs in the fourth; a Himes single drove in another for a 9-1 lead after five. Jason Johnson hit a two-run homer for Catoctin in the sixth, but Wisner's two-run double in the bottom half pushed the lead back to eight.

"Once we start clicking, we're unstoppable sometimes," Himes said. "Everybody hits the ball."

Something Catoctin saw all day Saturday. Again. And again. And again.

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