Unbeaten and ninth-ranked Westminster was trailing, 2-0, and down to its last strike against fire-balling Frederick left-hander Kristian Spriggs yesterday when lightning suddenly struck in Steve Mays' bat.
Mays, behind 0-2 on the count to Spriggs with the bases-loaded and two out in the last of the seventh inning, won the game, 3-2, with one swing of the bat.
Mays, a right-handed hitter, sent a fly ball down the right-field line that barely fell in fair territory and resulted in three runs for the Owls (8-0) in the Central Maryland Conference game at Westminster.
Brian Tozer and R.D. Larkin scored on the single to tie the game and Steve Shipley followed with the winning run when Frederick right fielder David Tyler's throw to the plate bounced past catcher Mark Zebra and landed out of play.
All three runs were unearned because Tozer reached second on a two-out throwing error by Frederick second baseman Bo Harper.
Mays and Shipley were mobbed by their teammates while Spriggs and the Frederick (4-4) players looked on in disbelief.
Spriggs had been one strike away from a two-hit shutout, and Mays had not hit the ball out of the infield in three previous at-bats.
On the final at-bat, the Westminster leadoff hitter took a called strike and fouled off a high pitch.
Then it was do or die for Mays, also an All-County football quarterback and All-County basketball shooting guard.
"It was a high pitch," said Mays. "He [Spriggs] took something off it. Everything was on my mind when I went to the plate but once I got there I just wanted to get my bat on the ball. I like hitting in situations like that. Even when I hit it I still wasn't sure the ball was going to go fair. It landed about two feet fair."
Larkin and Shipley walked after Tozer reached on the error to set the stage for Mays.
"I learned one thing in this game. Never give up no matter what happens," said Westminster pitcher Mike Peters. "I thought I had cost us the game when I got picked off third in the sixth inning."
Peters had blasted a one-out triple to deep right field.
But Spriggs, before throwing a pitch to cleanup hitter Denny Bowers, turned and threw a strike to third baseman Brian Kapp to get Peters.
"I thought I had let the team down," said Peters who raised his record to 5-0 with a five-hit, eight-strikeout performance.
Only one of the two Frederick runs in the seventh inning was earned, and Peters had two of the three Owls' hits.
Said Spriggs: "I got overconfident in the last inning and thought we had the game."