Having been cooped up in the gym during preseason training due to rain and cold weather, the Reservoir baseball team has become very adept at playing in small spaces.
So in Thursday afternoon's 2013 season opener against visiting Hammond, it was no surprise that the Gators were able to break the game open in the third inning with a series of bunts en route to an 8-3 win.
"It's early and with all the rain and stuff we haven't been outside a ton, but we really worked hard on making some contact and letting things happen," coach Adam Leader said. "They put the ball in play enough to move the guys around a little bit. When you're inside that's what you do."
The Gators started six sophomores on defense on Thursday, including starting pitcher Cody Morris, a preseason all-state selection who went four innings (6 Ks) and allowed one run on one hit, a leadoff bunt to Garrett Kelley.
Kelley stole second and third, and then scored on a sac fly by Derek Sicca, the Golden Bears' starting pitcher.
Sicca matched Morris pitch-for-pitch through the first two innings, striking out six batters and allowing two runners, on an error and a single.
But in the third, the reigning county champs reclaimed the lead after a leadoff single by sophomore Joey Janush, back-to-back bunts by Danny O'Hagan and Paul Quattrone, and a two-out RBI single by sophomore third baseman Jack Barry.
The Gators scored six more runs over the next three innings, including a two-run bases loaded single by Janush in the fifth.
Reservoir sophomore lefty Drew Stone had made it through two innings of scoreless relief, striking out four. But Hammond finally got going in the top of the seventh.
Catcher Ben Miller, a returning all-county first team selection, led off by roping a double to the warning track, followed by a single by Will Winder. Freshman David Hutchison and Adam Whaley then drew back-to-back walks, before Corey Dickson plated a run with a sac fly. Dewayne Richard then singled and Garrett Kelley walked to load the bases again, but Reservoir sophomore Jon Mierzwa finally ended the threat and the game by fielding a ball deep in the hole and making a clean throw to first.
The game was the debut of Hammond head coach Casey Medairy, who takes over for Mike Lerner after ten seasons.
Medairy, who played for Howard High and UMBC before coaching one year as the head JV coach at Atholton, is excited to be have a varsity head coaching position only two years out of college.
"I was more than happy to take the opportunity, this is what I want to do is coach varsity baseball," said Medairy, who is also currently finishing up his stint as a student teacher.
"We executed in the first, second and third innings, everything was going great. Derek did a phenomenal job on the mound," Medairy said. "We made the mistakes of where guys should be covering and where the throws should be going ... we were the team that made those mistakes and they didn't.
"We'll get there. We've got some work to do but I know that we can compete in this county."
Check back at explorehoward on Monday for the 2013 Howard County baseball preview.
Around the league
Glenelg 8, Centennial 3
Oakland MIlls 3, Mt. Hebron 1
River Hill 7, Long Reach 0