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Rebels claim title

South rallies from 4-run deficit to beat Catoctin

South rallies from 4-run deficit to beat Catoctin

May 27, 2003|by DAN KAUFFMAN

kauffman@herald-mail.com

HARMANS, Md. - After four innings of Tuesday's Class 1A baseball championship game, one could have been forgiven for looking at the Joe Cannon Stadium scoreboard and coming to the conclusion that it wasn't to be South Hagerstown's day.

Catoctin - a team that beat the Rebels twice in the regular season - held a 4-0 lead with ace left-hander Will Delawter allowing just one hit and hard-throwing righty Chad Wolfe ready in relief just in case.

In other words, things looked bleak.

"There were times down 4-0 we could have fallen apart," South coach Ralph Stottlemyer said, "and somehow we didn't."

Instead, the Rebels rallied with a spirit and determination fitting of champions.

The Rebels scored three runs in the fifth inning and five in the sixth to stun the Cougars 8-4 and win their second state title and first since 1996.

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"We got down, and ... we came in the dugout and said we had to pick it up," said South's David Miner, who overcame a rough first three innings to earn the victory. "We couldn't lose this game, we battled so hard to get here."

The Rebels (15-8) left the bases loaded in the first inning and missed another chance in the fourth, stranding seven runners total in the first four innings.

"We knew we could get the runners on, but we had to get them in in key situations," Stottlemyer said.

In the fifth, South's luck started to change, starting when Miner singled off Delawter for the Rebels' second hit of the day, stole second and third and scored on Phil Powell's sacrifice fly.

"When we scored the first run, everybody got up," Miner said. "We knew we wasn't finished. We've battled back from worse than that."

Josh Bussard's RBI double and Danny Lynn's RBI groundout cut Catoctin's lead to 4-3 after the fifth and brought new life to the Rebels' dugout.

"I felt the momentum change," Mike Campbell said. "We were down, and then it switched over."

South tied it in the sixth when Ben Mertz scored on a wild pitch, and Campbell - who walked in each of his previous three at-bats - singled to left to score Rob Peterson and Bryson Appel with the winning runs. Powell's RBI groundout made it 7-4, and Wolfe walked three straight batters to force in the final run.

"It was a great team (effort), one of the best I've seen all year," said Appel, who made a spectacular diving catch in the seventh inning. "At one point we were kind of low, but that shows what kind of heart we have, because we bounced back."

"We were all in a zone tonight," Miner said. "Not one of us, but all of us."

The victory sent Rebels seniors Campbell, Mertz, Peterson and Derek St. Clair out as champions.

"It's an awesome feeling," Mertz said. "It's sad when I think about it (being my last game), but when you go out a state champion, it's a good feeling."

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