The Francis Scott Key Eagles spent the entire afternoon yesterday waiting for their bats to arrive, but they never did.
Credit a sharp curveball from South Hagerstown's Lee Lorshbaugh, who went the distance, allowing just four hits, to lead the visiting Rebels to a 8-3 win in a showdown for first place in the Monocacy Valley Athletic League.
After allowing two runs in the first, the junior right-hander found his groove, finishing the day with eight strikeouts and getting plenty of support from a South Hagerstown offense that pounded out 12 hits.
It was the second time this season that South Hagerstown (8-2) beat Francis Scott Key (8-3) by an 8-3 count. The first time, at South Hagerstown, the Eagles left 10 men on base. This time the base runners didn't come by so often.
"That's a good pitcher with a great curve today -- that's how it goes," said Key coach Bob Caples. "We've been pounding out a lot of hits, it's been our bread and butter all year long, but that kid had a great curveball that just turned us around the batter's box all day."
The Rebels' offense helped Lorshbaugh's cause, with production coming throughout the lineup.
Leadoff hitter Thomas Ashby, who went 3-for-3 with two RBIs and two runs scored, was the main catalyst. He got things started in the first with a liner up the middle off Key starter Dan Stephenson, stole second and scored on Steve Smith's two-out single. Smith scored after Denny Summers doubled.
Key came back with two runs in its half of the first -- the second run coming across on a Stephenson single -- and it appeared it was going to be an all-day battle, but Lorshbaugh wouldn't let it happen.
After Stephenson's one-out single in the first, Lorshbaugh struck out Mike Crawmer and Jason Dykes to end the inning and then retired the next five batters before Dave Johnson hit a shot in the third that appeared to easily clear the portable fence in right.
The umpire ruled it bounced in play first, giving Johnson a ground-rule double instead, and he scored on another Stephenson single.
South Hagerstown had taken a 4-2 lead in the front part of the third and added two more in the fourth to go up 6-3. It was Ashby who was in the middle of both rallies, leading off the third with a single and scoring, and driving in two with another single in the fourth.
Production also came from the bottom of the South Hagerstown lineup with Rodney Young, hitting seventh, getting three singles and scoring two runs and Ben Kepler, hitting right behind Young, adding two hits and scoring another run.
"I said all season long winning on the road would be the key to winning the MVAL. This was a very satisfying win for us," said South Hagerstown coach Greg Eversole.