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Hammond baseball edges Wilde Lake, 3-2

Hammond baseball coach Casey Medairy said his team was eager for a game like the one it got at Wilde Lake on Monday.

The Golden Bears, who returned all nine starters from last season, wanted to compete and prove they know how to win after being victorious in one of 17 games in Howard County and just two of 21 games overall a year ago.

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“Our guys were really hungry and they really wanted it and you could tell,” Medairy said after his team’s 3-2 victory at Wilde Lake. “Every single one of those guys experienced two wins last year. They’re very ready to make a different statement and it showed, and I’m really encouraged by that.”

Two of Hammond’s first four batters scored in the top of the first inning and another scored in the second. Even though the bats went cold after that and didn’t manage a hit in the final five innings, it was enough to earn the win thanks in large part to the right arms of starting pitcher Brandon Eschman and reliever Aidan Witt.

Eschman kept the Wildecats in check through four innings, allowing just five hits — four of which came in their two-run third inning and never left the infield — two walks and two runs, while Witt allowed one hit and walked three in his three frames.

Witt ran into trouble in the bottom of the seventh but managed to escape it. Back-to-back walks with two outs loaded the bases for Matt Johnson, but Witt induced a game-ending groundout to shortstop.

“I think we got maybe a little bit picky with some of our pitches,” Medairy said, “but they’re good hitters.”

Offensively, the Golden Bears (1-0 Howard County, 1-0 overall) strung together good at-bats throughout the game. In the first inning, Eschman scored on a wild pitch by Johnson and Nick Wiedorfer ripped an opposite-field double. He scored when Ramel Washington hit an RBI double in the next at-bat.

Anthony Kline and Colin Kosakowski started the second frame with back-to-back singles and Kline scored on an error to make it 3-0. Overall, Hammond had 14 fly outs and struck out only three times in the contest.

“Something we’ve been working on is extending our hands,” Medairy said. “I know we’re getting technical here but it’s part of the game. We’re seeing a lot more line drives, a lot more power from our hitters and in the long run it will work in our favor.”

Wilde Lake (0-1, 0-2), which also won just two games last spring, didn’t have much luck either. It hit into three doubles plays in the first five innings but stayed within striking distance thanks to an RBI sacrifice fly by Johnson and an RBI single by Will Zimmerman in the third inning.

Grant Gladden pitched in relief of Johnson (3 IP, 1 K, 3 BB, 3 R) and surprised Wildecats’ first-year coach Steve Fredrick with his effectiveness. He didn’t allow a hit, struck out two and walked two in four innings of work.

“He hasn’t thrown a lot for us and for him to come in and keep us in the ballgame right there was huge. Starting off the season with four games this week, being able to have some guys step up and get us some quality innings is big,” he said. “But the fight until the end, we did that in our non-county game on Saturday [against Broadneck] as well, so I can’t say enough about that. I’m super happy to see that as well.”

Hammond (1-0 county, 1-0 overall) — 3, Wilde Lake (0-1, 0-2) — 2

........... 123 456 7 R-H-E

Ha ..... 210 000 0 3-4-1

WL ... 002 000 0 2-6-2

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