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PITCHER PICK BACKFIRES, ON AACC

So much for saving your ace pitcher and not going with him in the very first game of a tournament. That's what happened to the Anne Arundel Community College baseball team as it was eliminated this weekendin the Maryland JuCo Region XX Tournament at Beaver Community College in Monaca, Pa.

Holding ace right-hander Rick Forney of Annapolisfor game two vs. No. 1 seed Montgomery-Rockville, the Pioneers slipped past host Beaver Community College 7-6 in the opener Friday. But they lost the two Saturday games, falling, 13-9, to Montgomery-Rockville and resorting to the slaughter rule, 12-2, against Coach George Henderson's sixth-seeded Essex Community College.

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Pioneers coach Clayton Jacobson had the tough decision of whetherto go with Forney in game one and possibly bring him back if needed Saturday, or to save him just for the top seed. He chose the latter, and his team is history, finishing up at 25-9 overall.

Jacobson violated the age old baseball axiom of going with your best whenever he's ready. But it's difficult to criticize his decision. Simply put, Jacobson had faith that his other pitchers would get the job done against sixth-seeded Beaver and he would have Forney to run out there against the top seed in the double-elimination event.

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In the process,the fourth-seeded Pioneers almost blew the first game before nippingNo. 5 Beaver (27-13), 7-6, on a final-inning base hit by Northeast graduate Andy Srebroski. The Pioneers had to overcome an early 4-0 deficit.

Scott Hatfield came in relief of Mike Shockley and notched the win, going five strong innings. Had AACC blown the first game, itspitching would have been severely backed up in the loser's bracket and the chance that Forney would get to throw only once would have increased.

As it turned out, Anne Arundel survived the first round scare only to get hammered by Montgomery-Rockville (29-3) and Essex (18-8), with Forney suffering the loss in the Montgomery contest.

It's always easy to second-guess, but when Jacobson looks back on all ofthis along with pitching coach Larry Shillenberg, they just might wonder what would have happened had Forney gone the first game, pitcheda shutout or otherwise outstanding game and set the tempo for the Pioneers.

In such situations it might be best to have your best pitcher pitch right away no matter who you play the first game so that when you get to the finals, you can use him again after two days' rest.

Nonetheless, chalk up another great season for Jacobson and his Pioneers at 25-9.

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Today in high school baseball, there won't be any room for second-guessing because it's pretty cut and dried andthe scenario has been laid out. It's the top of the 13th inning and Old Mill is batting with a 6-5 lead over unbeaten (19-0) Northeast.

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Yes, the two clubs will finally finish that controversial marathon game and debate that began April 19 at Joe Cannon Stadium.

In whatwas the first high school game played at the Harmans complex, the contest was stopped by stadium supervisor Barry "Quick Draw" McGraw, who could see that the hour was late (after 11 p.m.) and that a heated argument between Northeast coach Harry Lentz and plate umpire Warren Williams was going nowhere.

Lentz was arguing a play at home platethat had given the Patriots the lead. That has since been resolved, the run counts and it's 6-5, with Old Mill batting, two outs and nobody on base in the top of the 13th.

Because it was actually the Eagles' home game and the schools don't want to pay another county fee to finish it off at Cannon, the game will be completed at Northeast High in Pasadena at 3:45 p.m..

With the game picking up in the top of the 13th, Northeast is faced with losing its first game. Since the game must start where it left off, Northeast ace Charlie Buckheit is out of there and so is Old Mill lefty Jimmy Simms.

Buckheit went the first seven innings of that game and was removed, while Simms pitched the first nine before being relieved. Neither can return in this game, but relievers Craig Everett of Northeast and Lee Haney of Old Mill can.

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Both pitchers should be well-rested. Northeast hasn't played since last Wednesday, and Stockman hurled for Old Mill on Friday in a 15-0 win over Queen Anne's. Stockman, who has really come on in the last couple of weeks and is 4-4, just might finish this one off for the Patriots.

The final result will have no bearing on the playoff seeding of either team, but a couple of individual batting records will be within reach of Northeast's Donnie Shump.

Northeast has already sealed the top seed in Class 2A Region III, while Old Mill (14-5) has clinched the No. 2 seed behind Arundel (16-4).

Senior third baseman Shump has four RBI in this game that remain to be tacked on his record. He already has 32 this season. With the four in this game, he will be within three of the county and state record of 39 in aseason set by former Old Mill stars, Jim McNally (1989) and Clark Wagner (1990).

In his career, Shump would have a total of 72, only one away from the county and state public school record of 73 held by Old Mill's Lou Holcomb (1983-85).

After today, Shump has at least one playoff game Friday, when the Eagles open up at home in 2A RegionIII against one of two Prince George's county schools, Central or Fairmont Heights.

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Teammate Buckheit (27-3) likely will get the call for the Eagles, who are favored to win the Region III title Friday. One more win by Buckheit (8-0) would give him a county record 28 career wins. The right-hander shares the all-time record (27) with Arundel's Neal Herrick (1975-77).

Buckheit's tied the record Wednesday ona two-hitter, winning by a 10-1 score over South River.

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Meade's baseball team completed its finest season with a 7-6 win over Severna Park on Friday night at Cannon Stadium. Senior Lance Taylor wentthe distance for the 11-7 Mustangs, the first baseball winner in school history, but the team missed the 4A Region IV playoffs by the state tie-breaker rules.

LaPlata of Charles County (11-5), a 10-1 winner Friday over Great Mills of St. Mary's County, tied Meade for the fourth and final berth in playoff points. Because they didn't play against one another, nor did LaPlata play an all-4A schedule, the tie was broken by comparing the team's winning percentages against all Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association teams.

And 11-5 (.687) beats out 11-7 (.611).

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That, in my opinion, is a travesty.

Since the regional semifinals don't start until Friday, why couldn't the two teams settle it on the field in a playoff game Monday orTuesday?

This is another example of how ridiculous the state playoff points system is. It's a crime that playoff teams are decided by a book and not by a bat and ball.

Coach Elliott Harvey's Mustangs have never been to the playoffs in the school's 14-year history and have become victim of its tough Anne Arundel County 4A schedule. LaPlata plays a gravy, mostly under-4A schedule in Charles County and qualifies. It's just not right.

The Mustangs got rooked out of their first-ever chance at the playoffs. They deserved to be there.

Top seeded Arundel (16-4), a 7-0 winner over Broadneck in its final game Friday behind the five-hit pitching of Jeff Beard, plays host to LaPlata on Friday at a time to be announced later. It's possible the game could be played under the lights. If not, the game starts at 3:45 that afternoon.

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No. 3 Severna Park (13-5) visits No. 2 Old Mill (14-5) at 3:45 p.m. Friday.

The two winners of the Region IV semifinalswill play Saturday on the home field of the higher seed. The times will be announced later.



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