Veteran Hammond coach Bob Maxey certainly know baseball. Before the season he predicted his team would win 12 games -- maybe as many as 15.
That seemed to be an optimistic forecast considering he lacked a power pitcher.
Yet the Bears are 13-6 overall and 9-4 in the league and headed toward Friday's Class 2A, Region II playoffs as the No. 3 seed. The Bears won five games last week and are riding a six-game winning streak.
The Bears beat Oakland Mills, Liberty, Howard and Wilde Lake, and defeated Wilde Lake in the completion of a suspended game.
Hammond's top player has been outfielder/pitcher Matt Cyran, a .462 hitter with five doubles, a triple, two homers and 17 RBI.
Other key hitters have been second baseman David Brewer (.345), and outfielders Joe Brewer (.333) and Andrew Jenkins (.345).
The Bears are averaging five runs and nine hits, while giving up 2.04 earned runs per game.
Jeff Price and Ross Kaplan have teamed with Cyran and reliever Jon Yezek to produce some surprising pitching results.
Price, who pitches against the toughest opponents, is 5-3 with a 1.87 ERA. Kaplan is 4-1 with a 2.49 ERA. Cyran is 3-1 with a 2.05 ERA. And Yezek, whom Maxey hadn't counted on, has four saves with a 1.21 ERA.
"Before the season began our big question mark was whether the pitching would hold up and throw strikes," Maxey said. "It has. We have no power pitchers, but have struck out six batters per game and walked three per game."
A year ago, Hammond pitchers gave up 20 homers. This season they've allowed just seven.
"And our defense has been pretty good," Maxey said. "We're averaging 1.5 errors and have fielded 93 percent of our chances."
As good as last week was to the Bears, that's how horrible it was for Mount Hebron's baseball team.
The week started with an expected victory over Wilde Lake on Monday. Then the Vikings took a 4-0 first-inning lead against Linganore on Tuesday and couldn't hold it. They led 6-4 as late as the fifth inning before losing, 10-7.
Hell week continued when Glenelg delivered a 19-1 drubbing in a game that began on Wednesday and ended -- due to a rain suspension -- on Thursday.
But the climax came in an 11-inning loss to Centennial on Friday.
A fly ball dropped by a Mount Hebron outfielder gave the Eagles two runs in the top of the 11th. In the bottom of the inning, Vikings catcher Rusty Shown appeared to have won the game with a grand slam.
But the plate umpire ruled the ball foul and the Vikings lost, 6-5. They also had their playoff hopes pretty much ended by that loss.
The win reversed a two-game losing streak for Centennial and was crucial to its Class 3A, Region III playoff chances. The Eagles beat Wilde Lake on Monday to guarantee their spot in the playoffs.
A year ago Wilde Lake had knocked Centennial out of the playoffs on the last day of the regular season by sweeping the Eagles in a doubleheader. History didn't repeat itself -- much to Martin's relief.
Baseball all-star game
A senior all-star baseball game between Carroll and Howard counties will be played at Atholton High on June 5 at 11 a.m.
Travers advances to nationals
Ancel Travers of Howard Community College has qualified for the National Junior College track and field meet in the 100 meters and long jump.
The meet is scheduled May 19-22 in Odessa, Texas.
Travers' best time in the 100 is 10.64 seconds, and his best long jump is 23 feet, 11 inches.