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Midnight strikes on HCC's Cinderella run

May 30, 2008|By TIM KOELBLE

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. - Shelton State (Ala.) Community College put an end to Hagerstown Community College's Cinderella season in emphatic fashion on Thursday by eliminating the Hawks with an 11-0 five-inning mercy rule victory in the NJCAA Division I World Series and sending them home with the third-place trophy.

University of Alabama-bound Adam Scott quieted HCC bats until the bottom of the fifth when Charles Johnson broke up a no-hitter with a single up the middle.

By then, the end was near for HCC's 42-19 season, the Hawks' best ever.

Shelton State rebounded from Wednesday night's 13-2 loss to Grayson County (Texas) College with a quick game of their own with a five-run first inning off HCC starting pitcher Kyle Chronister.

"They had their top guy going and we just couldn't do anything against him," said HCC coach Scott Jennings. "He had a nice slider and kept it out away from the hitters. That kept us off track."

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Jennings said Scott "was the best pitcher we've faced in the series."

Scott struck out six and walked two.

Chronister, who has suffered through shoulder injuries this season, got the call with an entire bullpen standing at the ready. It didn't matter to Shelton who was pitching.

Shelton's first hits would be considered seeing-eye singles and the fourth was a liner hit by Brandon Beardon that second baseman Matt Greene made a diving grab on, but couldn't hold.

"They had perfectly placed hits and none were hit hard," said Jennings. "And I thought Greene held on long enough."

The play would have been the third out and held Shelton State to two runs. Instead, it allowed Justin Diliberto to step up and drill a three-run homer, the first of the series for Shelton - for the 5-0 lead.

Jason Sutherland, David Plank and Craig Haupt made relief appearances for HCC, but didn't fare well. Shelton pounded out 12 hits, led by three each by Diliberto and Greg Guy.

By finishing third, the Hawks fared better than HCC's 1970 team, which finished fifth, and the 1993 team. It is the second-highest finish by a Maryland JuCo school, just behind Essex Community College, which won the 1992 national title.

"I can't be more proud of what we accomplished," said Jennings. "We were one of the final 10 teams in the country, won two games in the World Series and had the second best finish ever for a Maryland school."

Jennings considered the season a "fairy tale" season, one in which the pitching staff was altered with injuries.

"Among other things, we faced adversity with our pitching staff and these guys came through," he said. "These guys got me to Grand Junction."

If they elect to stay with the scheduled travel plans, the Hawks will return home on Sunday.

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