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Pallotti stymied by Annapolis Area Christian ace in final

Panthers lose 4-0 to finish campaign 20-11

By Tom Worgo, tworgo@tribune.com

May 24, 2012

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Annapolis Area Christian School pitcher Steven Ridings didn't need much help from his teammates against Pallotti during the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association B Conference's first championship game Tuesday, May 22 at Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen.

Ridings, a senior right-hander who will pitch at Wesleyan College in West Virginia next season, three-hit the Panthers and struck out six in a 4-0 victory.

Pallotti needed to beat the Eagles to force the if-necessary title game.

The Panthers defeated Ridings, 4-3, in late March, but he was much better this time and he ended Pallotti's best season in four years.

Coach Pat Courtemanche's squad finished 20-11, but they Pallotti came through the loser's bracket for a shot at a championship.

The Panthers lost to AACS (18-9) in their third tournament game, 9-5, then beat Mount Carmel, 5-0, before bowing to the champions again.

"I told my seniors, 'There's nothing wrong with making it to the championship and being MIAA runners up,'" said Courtemanche, whose program won B Conference titles in 2005 and 2006. "They were just the better team."

Pallotti senior right-hander Corey Dirks yielded four earned runs on five hits and struck out seven batters in 5 2/3 innings before being replaced by Nate Spicher.

Dirks ran into trouble in the first inning. After getting Raymond Hauf to pop out to short, Dirks issued consecutive walks to Ridings and Brian Parreira.

The next batter, Philip Michael, struck out looking, but Tony Villafane followed with a single to right field, which scored Ridings.

Dirks avoided further damage when he fanned Chris Van Riper.

Dirks allowed another run in the third. Ridings stroked a one-out single to left field. Parreira walked before Michael singled to center field to plate Ridings.

Parreira, however, was thrown out at home by Braulio Ramon, when he attempted to score on the single.

Pallotti failed to get a hit of of Ridings (8-1, 1.19 ERA) until Johnny Maloney hit a bloop a single to right-center field with two outs in the top of the fourth.

"It was just trying to throw first-pitch strikes and get ahead in the count," AACS coach Talbot Watkins said. "That's what he has done all year. Considering the game, it was definitely his best performance of the season."

The Panthers best chance to score came in the sixth when Ridings experienced control problems.

He plunked leadoff batter Chris Edelen, but he was forced at second on Noah Martin grounder and Martin was out at first after he turned the wrong way after an errant throw.

With two outs, the Panthers threatened again. Ramon singled and Matt DeFrank walked. but Ridings wiggled out of the two-out jam when he got Maloney on a comebacker.

AACS finished the scoring in the sixth. Van Riper clubbed a double to the left-center field gap to score Tony Villafane and Mahaffey's sacrifice fly brought home another run.