Mount Hebron ended Atholton's Class 3A, Region III playoff hopes yesterday by defeating the visiting Raiders, 8-2.
With the win, the Vikings kept their own Class 2A, Region III playoff hopes alive. Mount Hebron (10-9, 8-5) must defeat Hammond today and hope that Hereford and Chesapeake, two Baltimore County teams, lose their final games.
Atholton (11-8, 8-6) now cannot catch Centennial for the fourth playoff spot in its region even if it beats Liberty today.
The Vikings yesterday resembled the kind of team that they had hoped to be all season. They got solid starting pitching from Greg Hylock, and clutch hitting from Hylock, Mike Cudzillo, Mike Fadrowski and Rusty Shown.
The defense, which has been horrific at times, was still a bit shaky, making two errors that led to Atholton's two runs.
But Hylock's seven strikeouts during the six innings he pitched and reliever Cudzillo's two strikeouts in the seventh kept the Vikings from having to make many difficult defensive plays.
Hylock, a junior left-hander who is 3-1 this season and is batting .475 (29-61), held Atholton to four hits and walked three during his six-inning stint. He threw a fastball, curve and change.
"I had good control and just tried to change speeds and keep the ball on the outside of the plate," Hylock said. "My fastball naturally tails out. This is the most in command of my pitches I've been this season."
Atholton had taken a 1-0 lead in the top of the first on a single by Pete Yoder, an error by Hylock on a pick off throw and a single by Ryan Schneider.
But Mount Hebron scored five runs in the bottom of the first inning.
Mike Cole led off with a walk. Brian Benicewicz walked. Hylock and Cudzillo hit RBI singles. And Shown singled home two runs. Three Atholton errors were mixed in giving Atholton starting pitcher Keith Schultz a nightmare first inning.
Schultz, who was 4-0 coming into the game, was unable to throw his slow curve for strikes consistently, and the Vikings waited on and hit his fastball.
Schultz's curve normally is his most effective pitch.
"We wanted to keep their first two guys off the bases and pitch to their big hitters with no one on base, but we failed," Atholton coach Kevin Kelly said. Schultz just didn't have it today and their guy [Hylock] pitched a nice game."