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Adenhart's gem goes for naught

May 14, 2003|by DAN KAUFFMAN

kauffman@herald-mail.com

CUMBERLAND, Md. - Williamsport ace Nick Adenhart threw his first no-hitter of the season Tuesday in front of a dozen or more scouts, then had to watch in stunned disbelief as Allegany ace Aaron Laffey was the one celebrating a victory with his teammates.

Adenhart struck out 14 in six innings, but an unearned run in the second derailed the Wildcats as Laffey matched Adenhart pitch for pitch with a masterful two-hit shutout with 18 strikeouts and the Campers eliminated Williamsport 1-0 in the Class 1A West quarterfinals.

"Coming into the season, I thought we were the best team in the state in our class," Adenhart said. "Baseball is a game where you can run into a buzzsaw, and anybody can beat anybody."

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"I figured (Adenhart and Laffey) were the two top pitchers in the state, it'd be a 1-0 or 2-0 game and someone would come out on the short end," Williamsport coach Rod Steiner said. "That was us."

Adenhart got out of a one-out jam in the first inning after hitting Tim Lease with a pitch. Lease stole second and took third when catcher David Warrenfeltz's throw sailed high. But Adenhart struck out Laffey and induced Ricky Dalverny into a groundout to second to end the inning.

Adenhart's first pitch in the second was a fastball that got away and hit Timmy King in the ribs. Adenhart was visibly angry with himself as King took first.

"I don't usually hit people with fastballs," Adenhart said. "That one just happened to get away."

King stole second on the next pitch, and this time Warrenfeltz's throw was low and bounced past shortstop Josh Bowers into center field as King advanced to third.

Adenhart walked Shane McDade, who stole second uncontested, and Justin Bussard followed with a bunt down the first base line. Greg Small fielded the bunt and tagged out Bussard, but had no play at home as King scored.

"You blinked and there was one run on the board," Adenhart said. "That is how baseball is."

Adenhart struck out the next 10 batters he faced. Only King reached base the rest of the way, on a strikeout and wild pitch in the fourth. King later was picked off second by Adenhart.

Laffey kept the Wildcats off the scoreboard with electric stuff. The southpaw had all three of his pitches working, spotting his high-80s fastball, getting hitters off-balance with a slow curve and painting the corner with a hard slider. He also struck out 10 in a row from the first through fourth innings.

"I knew I'd have to have my best stuff, because Adenhart is a great pitcher," Laffey said. "I had everything working. I was putting the fastball where I wanted it and I had my breaking ball working."

Williamsport's best chance to score came in the fifth when Andy Taylor led off with a single down the left field line and took second on a groundout. But Laffey struck out the next two batters to end the inning.

Down to their last at-bat in the seventh, the Wildcats caught two bad breaks. Will Roney led off and struck out, but the pitch got past Allegany catcher McDade. However, the ball bounced off the backstop right back to McDade, and he threw out Roney at first.

Andy Taylor then reached base on third baseman Dalverny's throwing error. Two pitches later, Dustin Bachtell hit a grounder directly down the first base line that bounced off first baseman Chad Yoder's forearm past first base into right field. But the umpire ruled Yoder touched the ball in foul ground, negating an opportunity.

Laffey finished the game with two more strikeouts.

"We'd made a couple of comebacks this year, and we never thought it was over," Warrenfeltz said. "We thought we'd come back."

"I really thought we were going to get one (run)," Adenhart said.

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