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Rebels rise to occasion

South rallies in fifth, sixth innings to earn crown

South rallies in fifth, sixth innings to earn crown

May 27, 2003|by DAN KAUFFMAN

kauffman@herald-mail.com

HARMANS, Md. - Mike Campbell was getting tired of being patient.

South Hagerstown's No. 3 hitter spent much of his time in Tuesday's Class 1A baseball championship watching and waiting for strikes that never came. He walked in his first three at-bats against Catoctin starter Will Delawter, seeing a grand total of two strikes.

By the time he came up in the sixth inning against reliever Chad Wolfe, Campbell's bat was starting to wear out his shoulder.

"If (a pitch) was across the plate, I was hitting it," Campbell said.

When Wolfe obliged with a 1-2 fastball, Campbell's bat came alive. His hard grounder through the hole at short scored Rob Peterson and Bryson Appel to break a 4-4 tie and sent the Rebels on their way to an 8-4 victory over Catoctin for South's second state title and first since 1996.

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"It was right there, right where I wanted it," Campbell said. "It must have been a mistake."

"(He was) the right guy at the right time," South coach Ralph Stottlemyer said. "You can't ask for much more than that."

In truth, Stottlemyer got much, much more than that - and it wasn't just Campbell who practiced patience. Rebels hitters walked 12 times Tuesday, and while only two of those 12 came around to score, those walks kept Delawter and Wolfe from quick, low-stress innings and took a toll on their arms.

"I take those two guys on the mound any day," Catoctin coach Mike Franklin said. "We just didn't do it today."

Delawter wore down in the fifth, allowing two hits - one more than he had in the previous four innings - and giving up three earned runs as South cut a 4-0 Cougars lead to 4-3.

In the sixth, Ben Mertz led off by reaching on a ground-ball error, and Delawter hit Peterson in the head with a curveball that got away.

Franklin pulled Delawter for Wolfe, who gave up Appel's bunt single to load the bases, then threw a wild pitch to allow Mertz to score the tying run and Peterson and Appel to move up a base. After walking David Miner to reload the bases, Campbell connected for the game-winning hit.

"We started seeing the ball," Mertz said. "We were patient, we waited for the right pitch and we put runs on the board."

Phil Powell's RBI groundout scored Miner, and walks to Danny Lynn, Jeremy McAfee and Mertz forced in Josh Bussard - who reached on a fielder's choice when Campbell was retired at third - with another run.

Every South starter but McAfee either scored a run or drove in a run, and McAfee did his part, walking three times.

"Everybody wanted it," Campbell said. "We all came through in the end."

The Rebels' rally made a winner of Miner for the third time in the playoffs. Miner beat three aces - Clear Spring's Adam Mills, Southern Garrett's Chris Smith and Delawter - during South's run to the state title.

Miner struggled early, giving up three runs in the second inning on three hits - including doubles by Jason Johnson and Landon Hillard - and Miner's throwing error. Geoff Hillis' RBI single in the third made it 4-0.

But Miner was almost untouchable after the third, allowing one hit and no runs over the final four innings while striking out eight - including six in a row from the fifth through seventh innings. He finished with 10 punchouts.

"You could tell he got a little stronger and got more confidence," Stottlemyer said. "Once we tied the thing up, you could see it in his eyes, and I told him, 'This is where you've got to bear down.'"

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