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Home cookin' spurs Warriors into title game

May 28, 2002|BY DAN SPEARS

dans@herald-mail.com

BOONSBORO - There are no ghosts haunting the Boonsboro High School baseball team. No monkeys on their backs either, unless you count the number of Warriors playfully jumping on each other at the end of practices.

No, the only things following Boonsboro today as it plays Catoctin for the Maryland Class 1A state championship will be hundreds of hopeful eyes, led around by the hearts and minds of a baseball town that craves a long-awaited second title.

"People go by the field, wave and give us a thumbs up," senior center fielder Cody Hanes said.

"This has always been a baseball town," coach Fred Kreiger said. "And the people definitely play a big part. People I've not seen in a while, people calling on the phone now ... It'd be nice if every kid got to experience going through the bright lights."

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But somehow, the Warriors have missed the big time since their only state title in 1985.

They made back-to-back trips to the state final in 1987 and 1988, but didn't even make the four-team regional playoffs in 1990, the senior season of now-St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Garrett Stephenson. Two more regional titles in 1994 and 1995 ended up in state semifinal losses.

"We've had some good teams, some good players. That '88 team had 10 guys go on to play in college, (Stephenson) made it to the major leagues," Kreiger said. "I don't know if this is the most talented team I've ever had, but they're way up there."

Please turn to WARRIORS, B4

A win today would make the comparison moot.

"As kids, they lost in the state Little League final, so I think they had expectations to win something," Kreiger said. "My goals are intrinsic: get better, love the guys on the team. In the back of their minds, I think they knew they wanted more."

"We expected to be good this year," said senior Nathan Kaetzel, who's picked up three wins in four playoff games this spring. "Last year, (Hanes and I) hoped we'd be captains because we knew we were going to be pretty good."

Misson accomplished on the captains part. The pretty good part was in question after a brutal final two weeks of the season in which the Warriors played nine games - two ties and five one-run affairs.

"In the postseason, you might mess up once and your season's over," Hanes said. "But the pressure, I think, has made us better. We haven't played up to our capabilities until the postseason."

""The end was kind of like hell week, or the first week of football practice," Kreiger said. "It put us in a lot of situations that made us stronger. That was the difference in the Southern Garrett game (in the West region final). We'd had like 10 of those games. They probably only had a couple."

And if they have to do it one more time, well, that's fine with them. Especially if it leads to a state championship in front of an expected large crowd from Boonsboro.

"We're playing this one for everybody," Kaetzel said.

"Coach always gives us these talks, and he talks about older players, points out guys sitting out in the stands," Hanes said. "It makes you want it for them."

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