Warriors win the West

May 21, 2006|by DAN KAUFFMAN

BOONSBORO - All season long, Boonsboro ace Cam Shifler has gotten it done with his right arm.

Locked in a pitcher's duel against Williamsport ace Aerik Taylor in Saturday's Maryland Class 1A West final, Shifler's bat made a difference, too.

Trailing 2-1 in the sixth inning, Shifler jumped on a first-pitch fastball and roped a single to right-center field, scoring Jeremiah Mills with the tying run. Pinch runner Ryan Alick later scored the winning run on Jared Ferguson's fielder's choice grounder, and Shifler finished off a complete-game victory in the seventh as the Warriors beat the Wildcats 4-2 to reach the state semifinals.

"I have more confidence in that guy than anybody," Boonsboro coach Max Shaffer said. "He stepped up all year, and he proved he's the man today."


Matt Byers' RBI single gave Boonsboro (16-5) an insurance run heading into the last inning, and Shifler worked himself out of a two-on, one-out jam by inducing a groundout to third and a flyout to right to close out the title game.

It was the Warriors' third win in three tries this season against Williamsport, who came in riding a seven-game winning streak after defeating Northern Garrett 6-5 in the completion of a 1A West semifinal earlier Saturday.

"They say it's hard to beat a team three times," Shaffer said. "I wouldn't even bring that up with the guys."

Boonsboro will face Snow Hill on Tuesday at 4 p.m., at McCurdy Field in Frederick, Md.

The Wildcats (14-7) scored their only two runs right out of the gate against Shifler, who walked leadoff hitter Derek Hadley and uncorked a wild pitch to move him to second. Tyler Beard drove Hadley in with a single, and moved all the way to third on an error before scoring an unearned run on A.J. Jamison's groundout to second.

"I made the mistake of walking somebody, and that always comes back to hurt you," Shifler said.

He didn't make that mistake again until the seventh inning, which was the only other time a Wildcat got past second base. Shifler allowed six hits and one earned run, walked two and struck out four.

"We couldn't get (hits) in a row, and when we did hit the ball, they made some good plays in the field," Williamsport coach Larnie Vickers said.

"That's what you get when two good teams play, it comes down to which way the ball bounces," Vickers said.

Byers made a diving catch in center field in the second inning, while shortstop Matt Fortese made tough plays on two grounders for outs, one on a short hop in the third and one ranging behind second base in the fifth. Boonsboro also got lucky on Chad Bikle's soft line drive in the fourth, which was snagged by Mills at second. He stepped on second base to double up Jason Sutherland - who had no chance to get back to the bag - for the double play.

"When the boy hit the line drive to second and we got the double play, that was a good sign for us," Shifler said. "We knew we could keep plugging away and something would come our way."

"I kept telling them it's a long game, and if they keep their composure, we'll get some breaks," Shaffer said.

Boonsboro finally got to Taylor in the fifth. Josh Anders led off with an infield single, and Tim Cole walked with one out. With two outs, Fortese hit a seeing-eye single through the hole at short, scoring Anders to make it 2-1.

"The first run was huge," Shifler said. "When you get the first run, you see light. You can't win without scoring the first one."

Mills ripped a Taylor pitch for a single to start the sixth. He moved to second on Kyle Kane's sacrifice bunt, and Shifler got the fastball he expected and tied the game.

"He threw every single first pitch to me right down the middle, so I guessed and guessed right," Shifler said. "Aerik's a good pitcher, he's always around the plate and you know when you swing, you're going to make contact. I made good contact."

Taylor allowed nine hits and five walks while striking out five in his final high school start.

"It's just the way it is," Vickers said. "I thought the boys played real well, Aerik pitched well, we hit well, we played good defense, we just didn't get the key runs."

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