Clearly, Columbia Reds No. 1 Team Manager Larry Thompson was ticked off.

His team was tied for second place with Liberty Road behind the Bedouins in the tough Metro Baseball League, but 13 of his 18 players didn't show up for Thursday night's game at Atholton High.

Instead, they all were frolicking at Ocean City, enjoying what they thought was a well-earned senior-week vacation.

Thompson was soshort-handed he had to call up three players from the Reds 16-and-under team and use another non-roster player just to field the minimum of nine.

The result was an 8-4 loss to Pikesville, a team the Redsordinarily would have whopped. The defeat left Thompson livid.

"Columbia kids are soft," he said. "They don't want to dedicate themselves. That's why we have only one guy (Jeff Cyran) who might be a Division I player."

Cyran (Hammond), a first-team All-Metro selection by The Sun, was one of the 13 at the beach.

Pikesville Manager Richard Dotson also was short five players who were at the beach.

"Wedon't have any designs on greatness, but we're scrappy," he said of his first-year team.

His pitcher, Marshall Robers (Loyola), drove back from the ocean for the game.

Lucky for Pikesville he did, because he threw five innings of two-hit ball before being relieved in the sixth inning, when he gave up a lead-off walk and a double.

The6-foot, 190-pound senior right-hander, who is headed to Duke University next fall as a walk-on, had a 2-0 record with one save for Pikesville, a team that is 7-6. Robers was 7-4 over two seasons with LoyolaHigh.

The Reds fell to 10-5-1 after losing Thursday. First-time starting pitcher Brian Dunn (Mount St. Joseph) threw impressively, considering how little pitching he's done.

Dunn, normally a shortstop, throws harder than anyone on the Reds team -- somewhere in the low-80 mph range, but he hadn't started a game in a year. He gave up seven hits, five walks and five runs in five innings before Andy Young (Oakland Mills) finished up.

"I was getting behind in the count withmy curve and slider, so I had to come in with the fastball too much," Dunn said.

Dunn, who batted .303 with 16 RBI for St. Joe and wasan Honorable Mention All-Metro selection by The Sun, had pitched twice previously in short relief appearances with the Reds.

As a result of not having pitched, the Phelps Luck resident wasn't prepared tothrow a complete game.

"He did well," Thompson said.

But the Reds got only three base hits behind him.

A walk by lead-off batterJason Mills (East Carolina State), two stolen bases and an RBI single by Young gave them a 1-0 lead in the first inning.

Dunn scattered two hits and a walk over his first two innings. But in the third, Pikesville's Joe Friedman banged a two-out single following a pitch onwhich Dunn thought he had struck him out. The umpire called the pitch a ball.

Thompson and the Reds also argued that Friedman should have been out on a close call at first base. But Friedman's hit stayedas an infield single.

Then Pikesville cleanup batter Adrian Priceslammed a home run for a 2-1 Pikesville lead.

In the fourth inning, Dunn lost the strike zone. He walked the first two batters and wild-pitched them to third and second. Pikesville pulled a successful suicide squeeze for its third run.

Dunn then walked another batter, and Mike Black singled home Pikesville's fourth run.

Pikesville added a fifth run in the fifth inning on two singles, a wild pitch and a balk.

Robers, meanwhile, faced only 13 batters from the second through the fifth innings.

A walk and two more singles off relieverYoung produced Pikesville's sixth run in the sixth inning.

The Reds rallied for three runs in the bottom of the sixth on two walks andtwo hits. Catcher Kevin Nickey (Atholton) led off with a walk. Millsdoubled. Second baseman Brian Van Deusen (Atholton) fanned.

But Young walked. And third baseman Chris Calamari (Centennial), one of the three 16-year-old Reds called up, singled home two runs.

Dunn fanned. And another call-up, Center fielder Derek Schneider (Atholton),flied out and stranded Calamari on third base.

Pikesville clinched it with two runs in the seventh on an error, a single, a walk and asteal of home.

First baseman Matt Noon (Oakland Mills) was the third player called up. And right fielder Billy Mills (Atholton) was the non-roster fill-in.

The Reds lost to Pikesville once before, again playing without a full roster. Their other losses were to Liberty Road, County Bank and Putty Hill.

Reds catcher Bobby Caswell (Catonsville Community College) leads the league in home runs with three.

"Caswell and Mills have pulled our team together," Thompson said. Last year both players were members of the Dayton American Legion team.

The Reds' leading hitter is Brian Schroeder (Liberty), who is batting .629.

The team leaves Wednesday for a six-day tournament inDenver.

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