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'Cats do just enough to win

April 08, 2004|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

WILLIAMSPORT - In a game of sizable interests, the littlest of factors made all the difference for the Williamsport baseball team.

It was the season's first matchup between Williamsport's Nick Adenhart and South Hagerstown's David Miner, two local players who brought 20 major league scouts, including the league's scouting cross-checker, to the field.

Adenhart put on a show with 16 strikeouts Wednesday and Miner turned a stunning double play at short, but when it came down to it, the bunting ability of Ben Jordan and the Wildcats made all the difference in the world in a 5-1 MVAL Antietam victory.

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"You hate to do it that way, but we had to do what we needed to until we start hitting," Williamsport coach Rod Steiner said. "You don't usually need much with Nick, but you'd like to get a four-run lead in case you make a mistake for some leeway."

An overflow crowd, which included the scouts, a cable-television crew and an MLB videographer, saw Adenhart control the defending Maryland Class 1A champions for the better part of six innings. Meanwhile, Williamsport's offense struggled against South starter Jeremy McAfee and looked for something - anything - to help Adenhart.

It came in the third inning.

After Phillip Jordan reached on a single off a sinking line drive to center, Ben Jordan surveyed South's infield looking for the edge to advance the runner. He laid the perfect bunt down the third-base line, catching South's Josh Bussard off guard, for a single.

"Coach told me I needed to get the runner to second base any way I can," Jordan said. "We practice bunting all the time and the practice is starting to pay off. We got some guys with speed and South plays back on defense. We got to do what we have to do to score."

Ben Jordan started a trend. Matt Roney followed with a swinging bunt to the hole at short to load the bases, setting the stage for Adenhart's sacrifice fly for the first run. Andy Taylor, Williamsport's cleanup hitter, called his own safety squeeze bunt to score Jordan.

The Wildcats (3-1, 1-1) took a 3-0 lead on a throwing error by South catcher Patrick Hutzler.

"We talked about that before the inning," Steiner said. "Ben has the option to bunt on his own. He had the third baseman where he wanted him and put down a great bunt. Andy hasn't been hitting well and called the bunt himself. A good bunter can put 100 points on his average."

The three-run lead rewarded Adenhart for striking out eight of the first nine Rebels he faced. The right-hander had a perfect game through four innings before Phil Powell led off the fifth with a single.

South (2-4, 1-1) loaded the bases after Charlie Johnson was hit by a pitch, but Adenhart ended the rally by striking out Doug Palmer and McAfee.

Miner, who struck out and flew out in his first two at-bats, reached in his third at-bat against Adenhart on shortstop Andy Taylor's fielding error. Powell's second single of the game sent Miner to third, where he began a "conversation" with Adenhart.

The volley of gamesmanship produced Josh Bussard's RBI single to cut Williamsport's lead to 4-1.

Adenhart lasted six innings, allowing the one unearned run on four singles in 95 pitches (62 strikes).

"My fastball was good today. I was able to locate it," Adenhart said. "I might have lost a little bit of focus, but I battled through it. The stuff with David didn't bother me. We're friends and we talk all the time. We were roommates during Pony League."

Williamsport scored single runs in the fifth and sixth innings for insurance. Still, the inning full of bunts gave Adenhart all he needed for the victory.

"The boy's good ... there's no doubt about it," South coach Ralph Stottlemyer said. "He's the best I've seen in the area. He had his stuff and they don't have to score much for him to win. Those were beautiful bunts."

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