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Union Bridge church wins softball contest


WESTMINSTER -- It was the same result when Union Bridge Church of the Brethren faced Ascension Episcopal Church twice in the Carroll County Church Softball Championships, but with a little different look each time.

Union Bridge took the championship on Sunday at Carroll County Community College by defeating Ascension, 10-3, in the semifinals and, 6-3, when the two met again in the finals.

"Everybody chipped in and did a great job," said Brethren head coach Steve Horr. "We hung in there the whole way."

Brethren advanced with a three-run third inning to a 4-0 lead and got two insurance runs in the sixth for the title.

"Union Bridge played a tough tournament," said Ascension head coach Glenn Speicher. "They got good hitting, good pitching, timely hits and did everything a team needs to do to win."

Union Bridge defeated St. Paul's/Strawbridge, 10-9, in the first round and St. John's Roman Catholic, 10-3, in the second round.

Ascension had knocked out New Windsor Associate Reformed Presbyterian, 19-6, Carroll Community College 20-10 and Northminster 5-4 to face Union Bridge in the semifinals.

The two teams had met four times through the regular season, and Union Bridge had won each time.

It was no different in the championship, as Union Bridge held Ascension to three runs per game.

"I figured they might make some move on us," said Horr. "We had beaten them before and I had confidence in our pitcher."

Brethren's man on the mound, Skip Wah, shut out Ascension in all but one inning in the championship game.

Wah scattered 11 hits, with the only big inning for Ascension in the fourth with five hits.

Brethren's defense backed up Wah the entire game with Weldon Clinton, Robby Green, Jonathan Steiner and Ryan Rudolph making the plays when they were needed.

It was the third inning that set the tone for the game and put Ascension in a deep hole.

Union Bridge was already ahead 1-0 with David Bowman scoring the run in the first inning on a Steiner single. Union Bridge scored all three runs on five hits with the big blow coming from a Clinton triple.

Lisa Graham singled with one out to start the rally. With two outs, Clinton smashed a long fly into right field that Ascension fielders couldn't run down.

Graham scored and Clinton was safe on third. Wah added to his lead with a single to score Clinton for the second run of the inning.

Dave Musil got his first of three hits for the game and advanced Wah to second. Steiner singled and Wah came home to score the last run of the inning, and Brethren had a 4-0 lead.

Ascension answered with a rally of its own in the bottom of the fourth inning. Four consecutive hits got Ascension back into the game.

Dave Bollinger's single to right field brought in Craig Harshey to score the first Ascension run.

Harshey had singled and Danny Wilson had doubled to start off the inning. With runners on first and third, Chris Barnes got an infield single to load the bases.

Rick Miller bounced back to the mound for a fielder's choice that allowed Bollinger to score, but got Barnes out. Ascension loaded the bases with Bill Kuhn and Jerry Gooding reaching, but couldn't bring in any more.

"I think when we had the bases loaded and didn't score any, it took the wind out of our sails," said Speicher. "When they [Union Bridge] needed some breathing room, they got it."

The breathing room came when Robby Grossnickle reached on a fielder's choice and Ed Garber singled with two outs in the sixth. Graham singled to load the bases, and Grossnickle scored on a fielding error. Bowman's single brought in Garber for the sixth and final run for Brethren.

Union Bridge turned a double play in the last inning when Green snared a Gary Edwards grounder, made the put-out at second, and threw to first for the final out.

"I was real proud of the way everyone played," said Speicher, whose team won the title last year and 1989. "Union Bridge is a good hard team that deserved to win."

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