THE BIGGEST GAME, PLAYOFF STYLE Archambault closes out career


There's no single position in any team sport that has the ability to dominate a game in the same manner a pitcher does in baseball.

Westminster senior Chris Archambault closed out his high school career Friday with a heartbreaking 2-1 eight-inning loss to Paint Branch in the region playoffs.

The 17-year-old left-hander went pitch for pitch with highly touted senior Ryan Lambert for six strong innings -- both holding their opponents scoreless before giving up one run apiece in the seventh to send the game into extra innings.

"I don't think I've ever pitched in a big, big game like this before," said Archambault, the night prior to the game.

He was a little nervous Thursday afternoon looking over the Paint Branch lineup with Coach Carl Rihard in practice. He was honored to have the opportunity to have the ball when it counted most. And he was a bit antsy, wanting the big day to arrive but also wanting to keep a cool head through it all.

He said his only superstition is a troll doll that he brings with him to every game. His summer league teammates gave it to him last year after they were convinced he was "snakebitten."

"We'd be playing great and the fielders would be making all kinds of great plays and then I'd come in and they'd start making errors. They told me I was snakebitten,"

Archambault said.

"They gave me this little troll that has a baseball uniform on it. It's tan with green hair and is about four inches tall; he's got a gray uniform with two bats crossed in front. I either have it in my baseball bag or it sits with my parents."

He said his lucky number is 13, which he wears on his uniform.

Archambault had his weekend all planned. A win on Friday and another on Saturday to claim the region title and then it was off to the senior prom Saturday night. But it just wasn't to be.

Actually, he had a couple of scenarios going into Friday's game.

"I have two pictures in my mind," he said Thursday night.

"First, going back to the prom with our first playoff win in awhile or, two, hanging my head if I lost it," Archambault said.

There was no reason to hang his head after Friday's effort. Rihard couldn't ask for anything more from his ace.

"We told him all week long we needed him to throw a strong game for us to keep in contention -- he did just that," Rihard said.

Archambault finished the season 7-3, allowing just 10 earned runs while striking out 62 batters in 48-plus innings. The Owls finished with the county championship and a share of the Central Maryland Conference crown.

His plans are to attend Towson State next fall and pitch for the Tigers. Rihard said Towson State coach Mike Gottlieb is getting a gem in Archambault.

"He's got a strong arm, positive attitude and he's a very coachable kid," said Rihard.

"Put those three things together and any coach would like to have him. He's just a great kid."

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