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Wildcats fall in baseball final

May 30, 2004|By BOB PARASILITI

HARMANS, Md. - The Williamsport baseball team lived by the team concept ... and lived by it to the very end.

You win as a team and you lose as a team. The Wildcats' roster was dotted with seniors who have grown to grasp that idea in one last run for a state championship.

The very end came Saturday for the Wildcats, and it was bitter. Williamsport's unity suffered through a collective fizzle as Tyler Todd fired a three-hitter to lead Cambridge-South Dorchester to an 8-2 victory and the Maryland Class 1A title at Joe Cannon Stadium.

"We didn't execute offensively or defensively," Williamsport coach Rod Steiner said. "It wasn't our best game. But it wasn't one person who made the difference. It was a total team effort."

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Williamsport flew under the radar as one of the better teams in the state because of all the publicity going to pitcher Nick Adenhart, who was projected to be one of the first five players chosen in next month's amateur draft.

The Wildcats built a 21-3 record and didn't miss a unified beat when Adenhart was lost from the pitching rotation because of a torn elbow ligament. They marched to the final, using the arms of Andy Taylor and Aerik Taylor and timely hitting.

It all was missing on Saturday.

Cambridge-South Dorchester got to Andy Taylor for two runs in the first inning and then tacked on the rest with the help of Eric Willey's solo home run in the third and three Williamsport errors to end the Wildcats' intentions of going out as winners.

"It just feels bad," said Taylor, who struggled with his control in his three-inning start. "We worked so long to get here. We started in January."

Taylor fell victim to a fluttering curveball, unable to find the strike zone with it consistently. Willey, who finished with three RBI, rolled a two-out, two-run single through the box to get the Vikings on the board.

Williamsport was poised to answer in a big way against Todd in the first, but shot blanks which set the tone for the rest of the game.

Ben Jordan led off with a walk, took second on a wild pitch and moved to third on Adenhart's single. Taylor singled to center to score Jordan and move Adenhart to third.

Will Roney followed with a fly out to medium center field, which Adenhart tried to turn into a sacrifice fly. Center fielder Lucas Hanson caught the ball and fired to the third-base side of the plate, well ahead of the onrushing Adenhart to complete a double play.

"That out was big," Steiner said. "We had (catcher Dave) Warrenfeltz coming up and he had been coming through with some big hits for us with two outs. We took the bat out of his hands."

Taylor struggled but got out of a bases-loaded situation in the second. He got the first out in the third, before Willey launched his shot to left for a 3-1 lead, and left two more runners stranded. Taylor was replaced by Jordan in the fourth.

"I just wasn't getting my curve over," Taylor said. "I guess I was bringing my arm out too far. It was a good hitting team and their pitcher pitched well. He had a lot of movement. I thought we could hit him, but we didn't."

Williamsport managed one more hit - a fourth-inning single by Will Roney - the rest of the game. Todd gave the Wildcats chances by walking five, but Williamsport only got one run in the sixth inning.

Cambridge scored on Jordan in the fourth when John Moore left third on a grounder to Roney at short. The throw home beat Moore, but Warrenfeltz dropped it to allow the fourth run.

"That fourth run was critical," Steiner said. "When we were down 3-1, we just needed a big hit to get back in it. We weren't able to bunt and move runners like we like to do. We were down to counting outs."

Williamsport pulled to within 4-2 in the sixth when Jordan drew a leadoff walk, advanced when Josh Bowers walked and Adenhart flew out before scoring on Taylor's fielder's choice grounder.

Cambridge capped the game with four insurance runs in the seventh, with the help of two Williamsport errors.

"This is disappointing because this was a senior-laden club," Steiner said. "We got some good breaks and got help when Southern Garrett lost early. Talent-wise, this is probably the best team to go through the school. You can win a title with less talent, but you have to play your best games when it counts and get breaks. We didn't play our best game in the final."

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