The roller coaster that is the race for the 2013 Howard County baseball title continues to deliver thrills. On Friday, Hammond (10-6) knocked off visiting Oakland Mills (11-4), 5-1, while Atholton (12-3) took care of Howard (8-8), 10-2, to claim sole possession of first place in the league standings with only two games left to play.
In mid April, Oakland Mills was 9-0 and on track to win its first baseball county championship. The Scorpions dropped their first game of the season, 5-1, to visiting Atholton on April 16, and they have now lost three games in a row: against Reservoir, 5-3, on April 29; at River Hill, 5-3, on May 1; and at Hammond, 5-1, on Friday.
"We couldn't get any timely hitting, couldn't get the break, and it's been that way for three games," Oakland Mills coach Brian Rau said. "I feel like if we could just break through and get some momentum we'd be right back on track, but it's been a long week."
Joe Zayatz led off Friday's game by hitting the first pitch from Hammond freshman lefty David Hutchison over the fence in right field, but after that, Hutchison was in control.
"The first pitch was a fastball, I was just trying to get a good first pitch. He ended up hitting it and there's nothing I can do about that so I just beared down and threw strikes," said Hutchison, who allowed seven hits in the complete game victory, striking out four and walking two. "I was mixing it up, because I know they have a good line-up, they're a good hitting team."
In the bottom of the first inning, Garrett Kelley hit a leadoff single, stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch. But while sliding into third, Kelley was hit in the groin by the throw from the plate and had to leave the game.
"I think he'll be all right, but it's scary," said Hammond first year coach Casey Medairy. "With football even when he got hurt I don't think he ever came off the field, and he didn't want to come off there but he got hit hard."
Kelley's replacement, Andrew Landfried, eventually scored the tying run on Ben Miller's double off the top of the fence in right center field. Landfried took over the leadoff spot and went on to reach base in each of his next three at-bats, on an error, a hit-by-pitch and a walk.
The Golden Bears finally took the lead in the fourth on RBI singles by Will Winder (2-for-3, two runs) and DeVonn Griffin, and broke the game open on Derek Sicca's gap shot two-run double in the bottom of the sixth.
"Derek has been coming up with the bat every game ... every at bat, he's going to make something happen," said Medairy. "We're starting to get into a nice rhythm, guys are excited to come to the field … our pregame and warm up has just been so energetic and the guys look like they want to be here. You can't have a bad game like that."
Hutchison is now 2-1 in three starts with a .71 ERA.
"He's really good at controlling the pace of the game and making sure that he throws his game and the defense is behind him," Medairy said.
Oakland Mills now needs to beat both Glenelg (9-7) and Reservoir (10-5) on Monday and Tuesday, and hope that Atholton loses to Reservoir and Wilde Lake (4-11).
OM (11-4) 100 000 0 - 1 7 3
Ha (10-6) 100 202 x - 5 6 1
Russell, Thomas (6) and Hale. Hutchison and Miller.
2B: Ha — Miller, Sicca.
HR: OM — Zayatz.
Around the league
Atholton 10, Howard 2
Austin Feuerman was 2-for-2 with two walks, a triple and two RBIs to help the Raiders take sole possession of first place in the county standings.
Michael Slayton and Joe Bentz (two runs, two RBIs, stolen base) each doubled for the Raiders.
Freshman Blake James pitched three scoreless innings to earn the win.
Glenelg 6, Marriotts Ridge 4