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Ball bounces South's way

Rebels earn first title game berth since '96

Rebels earn first title game berth since '96

May 21, 2003|by DAN KAUFFMAN

kauffman@herald-mail.com

FREDERICK, Md. - Locked in a tie with Cambridge-South Dorchester through six innings of Tuesday's Class 1A baseball semifinal at McCurdy Field, all South Hagerstown wanted was an opportunity.

When that opportunity came in the top of the seventh, the Rebels knew their time had arrived.

With Bryson Appel on third and David Miner on second with one out, Mike Campbell swung and missed a curve ball for strike three. But when the pitch bounced away from Cambridge catcher Jeff Robinson, Campbell alertly took off for first.

Once Robinson retrieved the ball, his hard throw to first short-hopped first baseman Will Beasley, bouncing off the heel of his glove up into the air and down the right field line.

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The error allowed Appel to score the winning run, and Miner raced around third at full steam for an insurance run as South took the lead and went on to win 6-4 and earn its ticket to Saturday's 1A championship game.

"Everything fell together for us," Rebels coach Ralph Stottlemyer said. "They deserved to win just like we did, but errors will kill you every time, and we capitalized."

South will be making its first appearance in the state title game since they won the Class 2A championship in 1996.

Miner - who will start for South in the title game against Catoctin at noon Saturday at Joe Cannon Stadium in Harmans, Md. - broke from second as soon as the throw got away from Beasley. He scored standing up and celebrated wildly with his teammates in front of the first base dugout.

"I just hustled and I knew I was fast enough to get there," Miner said. "We got the two-run lead, and we knew J-Mac (Jeremy McAfee) would finish up the game for us."

Rebels starter Ben Mertz held a 4-2 lead through five innings, but gave up four hits and two runs in the sixth and was pulled.

McAfee came on and faced a jam with runners on second and third with one out, but he struck out Robinson and Jon Moore looking on outside fastballs to keep the game tied.

"With Jeremy coming in, it was a different look and a different approach," said Stottlemyer of McAfee's power pitching as opposed to Mertz's finesse. "We got through by the skin of our teeth."

With two runs to work with in the bottom of the seventh, McAfee walked Joey Hayden to lead off, but got Hunter Wessells to ground to Miner at second, who started a 4-6-3 double play with shortstop Danny Lynn making the second throw just in time.

"That double play was the big play of that inning," Stottlemyer said. "Miner caught it, Lynn pivoted on the bag perfectly, it was a beautiful thing."

Tyler Todd reached on a single to right and advanced to second on an outfield error, forcing McAfee to face imposing cleanup hitter Beasley.

McAfee got two strikes with curveballs, missed with a fastball outside, jammed Beasley inside with a curve, then blew a high fastball past him for the final out.

"I was trying to set him up for a fastball high," McAfee said. "I threw him two curves, threw a fastball outside ... I jammed him and then brought it up high."

Miner singled, doubled and scored twice, Josh Bussard singled twice and scored after both and McAfee finished with two RBI for the Rebels (14-8).

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