When Atholton senior catcher Paul Burmester threw out Glenelg's Luke Brister attempting to steal third in the top of the seventh inning on Tuesday, it could have been considered the play of the game. After all, Glenelg had just scored the tying run on a single by sophomore shortstop Anthony Bowman, and was threatening to take the lead with only one out.
"It was exciting. I just wanted to get a good throw on it and I got it," said Burmester, who has thrown out five of the eight Howard County players who have attempted to steal on him this season. "I always like throwing guys out ... I worked on my arm strength over the summer so I'm getting better."
After a flyout to center field, Burmester had a chance to help his team on offense when he led off the bottom of the inning with the score tied, 3-3.
And Burmester took advantage of the opportunity, stroking a line drive to the gap in right-center field and legging out a triple.
"It was 2-1 and I was looking fastball and got it," said Burmester, a returning all-county catcher who led the Raiders with a .390 batting average and 15 RBIs last year.
After Burmester's triple, Glenelg intentionally loaded the bases, which led to Brian Harris' walk-off sacrifice bunt that scored pinch-runner Matthew Gross.
"I have a lot of confidence in Brian putting down bunts…when I finally realized he was going to be up after they walked (the bases loaded), I was looking forward to it," coach Jon Dupski said. "It's the little plays we try to work on every day. It's great. Our guys are working real hard now.
"Burmester couldn't ask for more, throwing him out and then going out and hitting the triple. It was awesome. It was crucial," Dupski added.
Atholton took a 2-0 lead in the first inning on three walks, an RBI groundout by Austin Feuerman and a wild pitch.
But Glenelg got those runs back in the top of the second inning on a walk, a hit batter and a two-run double by Chris Dornan, who was making his first start in right field.
But after that, both teams settled into a defensive struggle. In the second inning, Glenelg's Dylan Waddell took over for Clayton Christie, who was struggling with his control, and pitched four innings of relief, allowing only three hits and one unearned run after a triple by Feuerman.
And Atholton freshman Blake James, who was making his first career start, settled in to retire ten of the next 14 batters after Dornan's two-run double, keeping the Gladiators off the scoreboard in the third, fourth and fifth innings.
Dornan led off the seventh with a single off of Raiders reliever Daniel Wertheimer, moved to third on an infield single by Luke Brister and scored on Bowman's single.
"Chris Dornan got his first start in right field and got two hits and he was the one who scored the run there to tie the game in the seventh, that was a big positive for us," coach Dave Boteler said. And "Dylan Waddell pitched a real fine bullpen performance and made us real proud."
Although they are 3-2 in league play, the Gladiators are reeling a bit having lost three of their last four games.
And with starters Nick Crabill, Tyler Hoeflich and David Brookhart all injured, Glenelg is battling through a rough stretch.
"We're in a bit of a funk right now with some injuries...we've been playing with a bit of a skeleton crew and it's showing," Boteler said. "We're doing some things well, but having such high expectations going into the year, we're discouraged because we're not living up to them."
Glenelg won 19 games last year, including ten in a row to start the season and eight in a row before losing in the regional championship, and returned four all-county players.
"I still believe in this team. We're going through some growing pains and the injuries are hurting us and all that, but we want to be there in the end," Boteler said. "In the regular season you take your lumps."
G (3-2) 020 000 1 - 3 6 4
A (3-1) 201 000 1 - 4 6 2
Christie, Waddell (2), Boxall (6) and Southern.
James, Wertheimer (6) and Burmester.
2B: G — Dornan.
3B: A — Feuerman, Burmester.