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Patience pays off for Little League's Orioles


WESTMINSTER -- It's been three years in the making, but to three Westminster Optimist Little League coaches, the wait has been worthwhile.

Before the 1990 season, Butch Adams, who manages the Orioles team in Westminster's Major League division, and his assistants, Mick MacDaniel and Dave Hill, drafted their sons, along with three other 10-year-olds.

Since then, they have worked hard with these and the Orioles' other 10-, 11- and 12-year-olds, to teach them the game of baseball.

Now, that effort has paid off.

The Orioles have won the first-half league championship with an 8-1 record.

And Saturday at Bennett Cerf Memorial Park, they took dead aim on the second-half title by blanking the Giants, 7-0.

Oriole hurlers Tommy Herb and Scott Carnegie each pitched three innings, yielding a total of four hits.

The Orioles struck in the first inning when Hank Adams singled home Herb. Ryan Webster scored on a wild pitch in the third to make it 2-0. Kyle MacDaniel tallied on the front end of a double steal to make it 3-0 in the fourth inning, and Jason Beal, who had stolen second on the play, scored later in the inning on Webster's ground single.

The winners scored three more in the sixth.

Ray Henry scored on a passed ball, Herb singled in a Jon Bearr, and Beal scored on another Webster single.

The Orioles have now won nine in a row after losing their opener.

Their coaches attribute this success to a combination of experience and hard work.

"We've been grooming these boys for the past three years," MacDaniel said later, noting that eight of his 12 players are age 12, giving the Orioles one of the most seasoned teams in the league.

Six of these youngsters are those 10-year-olds that came in the 1990 draft.

Only now, they are bigger, stronger and better.

"Over the past three seasons, they have developed their abilities. That makes it easier for us. All they have to do is go out and do it," Adams said.

MacDaniel added that, during practice, the three men work hard on fundamentals with the youngsters and "after a couple of years, it sinks in."

MacDaniel said the players are taught to play as many positions as possible to make them more versatile and also to gain an appreciation of what others in those positions face.

Hill, whose son Jon is one of the team's top pitchers, said he thought the team would contend when the season began, although Adams said the squad had failed at crucial moments during the previous two seasons despite being competitive.

But an early season 7-0 win over a tough Red Sox team gave the team the confidence it needed, Adams said.

Then, about two weeks ago, playing the second-place Yankees with a chance to win the championship, the Orioles removed all doubts about their ability to win the big one.

After losing a 5-0 lead, they rebounded to score the winning run in the home sixth to break a 5-5 tie, nailing down both game and title.

"Last year, we wouldn't have gotten that extra run," Adams said.

But this year it's different.

"It's a new experience for me, I've never been on a championship team before," said young Herb.

While that second half is still to be won -- or lost -- nobody seemed to worry much about that, Saturday.

"The most gratifying thing this year is to see the boys and improve and progress," Coach Hill said after the game.

The team's other players are Ed Dill, Greg Frech and Jeff Lippy.

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