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Cougars get back to final

May 21, 2003|by DAN KAUFFMAN

kauffman@herald-mail.com

FREDERICK, Md. - More than a few teams would have panicked Tuesday after falling behind 2-0 early in the Class 1A semifinals.

Not Catoctin. Not with seniors Justus Yocum and Chad Wolfe. Not with Will Delawter - a junior who pitched in the 4A final for Thomas Johnson last season. And not after last year's run to the state title game.

Determined to get back to the final again, Yocum had two doubles and two RBI, Delawter tripled, singled and drove in two and Wolfe settled down after early trouble to strike out eight as the Cougars earned a return trip to the championship game with a 5-2 victory over Elkton at McCurdy Field.

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"(We were) a little nervous that first inning, but we've been there before," Catoctin coach Mike Franklin said. "We're a senior-laden team, and they knew what to do."

Catoctin will play South Hagerstown for the championship Saturday at noon at Joe Cannon Stadium in Harmans, Md.

Wolfe walked Alberto Cheures to start the game. Hong Kim reached on an infield single, and a throwing error allowed Cheures to score and Kim to reach third. Joe Hunt's single scored Kim as Elkton (14-6) took a 2-0 lead.

"I knew we were going to get runs eventually," Wolfe said. "The first inning was just nerves."

Sensing Wolfe needed a breather, second baseman Danny Novak - another senior - called time and settled Wolfe down. Wolfe promptly struck out the next two batters to end the inning. He allowed only three more hits after that, never facing more than four batters in an inning and retiring the final nine in a row to close the game.

"After Novak calls that timeout and settles things down, Chad mows them down after that," Franklin said.

The Cougars got the bats going in the third off Elkton starter Scott Reynolds. No. 9-hitter Ryan Nesbitt drew a leadoff walk and Yocum - facing Reynolds for the second time - doubled to left center to score Nesbitt.

"We wanted (to hit) the fastball," Yocum said. "It had no movement and was sitting there. But he started hanging the curve, and that's just as good."

One out later, Delawter's triple to the gap in left scored Yocum and tie the game. Wolfe's single past the third baseman scored Delawter for a 3-2 lead.

"Those guys have been there, they know the first time (through the lineup) you gauge the guy," Franklin said. "We hope the second and third time through, they get to him."

"We knew momentum had swung to us, and we knew we'd be all right," Wolfe said.

Yocum, Delawter and Wolfe got the best of Reynolds again in the fifth for the final two runs. Yocum led off with a double to left, moved to third on Novak's groundout and scored on Delawter's RBI single. Delawter stole second and scored on Wolfe's soft liner to right.

"We've been down before," Novak said. "We play our best under pressure."

Novak - one of several seniors who played in last year's 11-3 loss to Boonsboro in the state final - didn't leave McCurdy Field without a prediction.

"We're back, and we're taking the title," he said. "There's no doubt at all."

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