John Sauer pitched just two innings of one game last season during then-top-ranked Patterson's 20-1 Maryland Scholastic Association B Conference baseball championship campaign.
Having lost five pitchers to graduation, including All-Metro left-hander Gary Burrows, coach Roger Wrenn began the season wondering how well Sauer would do as the team's ace.
Sauer may have punctuated his answer with yesterday's 3-1 victory over No. 6 Poly (13-6, 11-1) in the 4A-2A City League. He went the distance and struck out 11, giving up five walks and three hits. He also went 3-for-4, scored twice and stole three bases.
Sauer, 6 feet 1, 210 pounds, raised his strikeout total to 79 in 49 innings. He has allowed 10 earned runs for a 1.42 ERA.
Patterson (13-4, 10-1), which entered yesterday's game trailing top-ranked Arundel and No. 8 Chesapeake for the four regional seeds, improved its 4A, Region IV playoff hopes.
Remaining for Patterson is an incomplete game with Edmondson, which trails fourth-place Old Mill for the final spot in Region IV. Tuesday's game at Edmondson is tied at 7 in the bottom of the fifth.
The Engineers had 22 hits in Monday's 21-2 rout of City, raising their average to .383 (12.1 hits per game). But Sauer lured the Engineers with his fastball -- once clocked at 84 mph -- before duping them with a curve or changeup.
"I just stayed ahead in the count as much as possible," said Sauer (7-2). "Our offense doesn't score a lot when I pitch, but overall, it's done a good job this year."
Sauer, who also threw out a runner at second in the third inning, shut down the Engineers' Charles Wilhelm (.464, 26 RBI) and Brian Fortman (.443, 16 RBI), who got one hit between them.
He got Wilhelm on a fifth-inning come-backer for the final out with men on first and second.
Sauer gave the Clippers a 1-0 first-inning lead after reaching on an error, stealing second and scoring when another steal attempt resulted in an error at third base.
Poly's Barry Lancaster (15 RBI) tied the game with his fourth-inning, two-out single. But the Clippers led 2-1 after Willie McGirt scored on a fourth-inning error.
A sixth-inning single by A. J. LeBrun (2-for-4) scored Sauer for the final run, ending the Clippers' 11-hit effort against Poly pitcher Joe McKenzie (4-2).
"In our schedule, we don't get to see many good pitchers like John Sauer. A guy like him can make everything go your way," said Poly coach Charlie Sullivan.
Poly, an earlier 9-5 winner over Patterson, has clinched the 4A-2A league title based on run differential and is scheduled to play in Monday's CityWide championship against Southern, the 3A-1A league winner.