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Wildcats cruise to state final

May 26, 2004|BY DAN KAUFFMAN

kauffman@herald-mail.com

FREDERICK, Md. - For much of this season, Nick Adenhart has been the star attraction on Williamsport's baseball team. But as Tuesday's Class 1A state semifinal against Havre de Grace at McCurdy Field showed, there's a lot more to these Wildcats than just one guy.

Seven starters scored at least one run, six had hits and pinch-hitter Tyler Beard closed things out with a three-run double in the bottom of the sixth inning, giving Williamsport a 14-4 victory and a ticket to Saturday's state final at Joe Cannon Stadium.

"These guys are stepping it up," Wildcats coach Rod Steiner said. "Maybe the other guys play harder when (Adenhart) isn't out there (on the mound)."

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"We feel pretty unbeatable right now," said Adenhart, who has assumed designated hitter and pitching coach responsibilities this postseason. "We're hitting well, and it's going to take a good pitcher to keep these bats quiet."

Havre de Grace couldn't keep Williamsport down, and didn't aid its own cause by committing six errors, many which were caused by the artificial turf-like infield at McCurdy, which produced several bad - make that terrible - hops.

"It's rock hard," Steiner said. "If you hit the ball on the ground, good things can happen."

Williamsport (21-3) took a 3-0 lead in the first on three infield errors, Andy Taylor's RBI fielder's choice groundout and David Warrenfeltz's two-run double down the left-field line.

"We got three runs off three errors, so we saw we could take advantage of that," said Ben Jordan, the Wildcats' leading hitter who was 2-for-4. "Just put the ball in play and you never know what will happen."

After a tongue-lashing by its coaches, Havre de Grace tied things in the second off Wildcats starter Aerik Taylor. Cody Holliday started it with a double to left, and with two outs, a hit batter and a catcher's interference call against Warrenfeltz loaded the bases before David Strong cleared them with a bloop triple which fell in front of sliding right fielder Matt Sweigert.

But Williamsport put a halt to Havre de Grace's momentum with six straight hits which, along with two walks and two errors, led to seven runs and a 10-3 lead after two innings. Josh Bowers' two-run triple to the right-field gap keyed the inning, while Adenhart, Will Roney and Warrenfeltz added RBI singles.

That was plenty for Taylor who - aside from one mistake to Shane West which resulted in a solo homer in the third inning - cruised the rest of the way. He relied on a low- to mid-80s fastball with location and allowed seven hits and one walk while striking out seven.

"I felt I was hitting my spots throughout the game," Taylor said. "That's pretty much all I was using, was my fastball. I felt like if I hit my spots, that's all I needed."

Williamsport's four-run sixth featuring Warrenfeltz's RBI single and Beard's bases-clearing double finished it off.

The Wildcats will play (Catoctin/Cambridge-South Dorchester winner) Saturday at noon at Joe Cannon Stadium in Harmans, Md., for the 1A championship.

"We've won nine straight now, and we feel pretty good," Jordan said. "As long as we make the plays on defense, we feel we can beat anybody."

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