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Lions, Eastern Tech clash for 2A honors

May 24, 2003|By TIM KOELBLE

koelble@herald-mail.com

The Walkersville baseball team will try today to advance to the head of the class - Maryland Class 2A, that is.

The Lions' task will not be easy as they tangle with unbeaten Eastern Tech in the Class 2A state final at Joe Cannon Stadium in Harmans, Md., with the first pitch scheduled for 3:30. If victorious, Walkersville would add another diamond crown to its 1999 feat.

"They (Tech) have two decent pitchers, are a good defensive team and pretty scrappy," first-year Lions coach Mike O'Brien said.

Walkersville (15-5) is riding a 10-game win streak, the latest a 4-0 victory over J.M. Bennett in Tuesday's semifinals thanks to a great pitching performance from Cole Kidwell.

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O'Brien has the luxury of being able to choose from a zoo of hurlers and was undecided on today's starter as of Thursday.

"Whoever we start will fit in there and do a great job," O'Brien said. "Everyone will be ready. We have five quality pitchers."

In addition to Kidwell, Walkersville can choose from Pat Blake, Danny Leatherman, Wes Anderson and Jim Reilly to take care of the mound chores.

While pitching wins a ton of games, O'Brien credits a pair of his position players as the catalysts - junior shortstop Josh Jacobson and senior catcher Ray Dorsey.

"Josh is our sparkplug," O'Brien said. "He's always talking up to everyone and getting them going. At the beginning of the year he would take extra batting cuts and that worked on everyone else."

Unusual by most scholastic standards, Dorsey has carte blanche with signal-calling.

"Ray is a leader by example," O'Brien said. "He calls the pitches and he is in tune with the pitchers. He talks to them, he knows them and is able to react to the situations."

Center fielder Tyler Redick has been hot in the playoffs from the No. 9 position in the batting order, hitting over .600.

The Lions have outscored their opponents 25-4 in the playoffs.

"I think if we get four or five runs we'll be tough to beat," O'Brien said.

Formerly an assistant varsity coach at Urbana, O'Brien had a twinkle in his eyes as he approached the beginning of the season.

"Judging from the preseason, our coaching staff thought we had all the tools at the positions to get to this point," O'Brien said. "We emphasized we play as a team with 19 players, and if we did, we'd be hard to beat.

"Midway through the season we started clicking when they bought into what we were saying."

And for one more game, O'Brien hopes everything clicks.

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