Sean Fairbanks was putting on his uniform yesterday in the locker room at Arundel getting ready to board the team bus to Cape St. Claire when coach Bernie Walter gave him the news.
Walter told the 6-foot-4, 210-pound senior catcher that he didn't need his mask, shin guards nor his aluminum bat and batting helmet.
"Are you ready to pitch?" asked Walter.
Fairbanks said he was. He pitched a four-hitter through six shutout innings before tiring in the seventh as the No. 8 Wildcats turned back the No. 11 Bruins, 12-2.
Fairbanks set up the Bruins by going up and down, in and out, striking out only four, but making his opponents hit the ball.
Arundel (10-4) was coming off a 3-2 loss to No. 19 Glen Burnie (9-3) on Wednesday but Fairbanks (2-0) felt no pressure against a team that came in with an 11-2 record. It was only his second start (a five-inning, 10-run win over Oakland Mills in the Arundel Tournament was his first) of the season.
"It was weird out there today," said Fairbanks, who pitched during the summer with Ric Waldt's General Dye 16-and-under team. "I don't know what it was, but the atmosphere wasn't like a big-game atmosphere. Everything seemed to be real slow."
Everything that is, except for the Arundel bats.
With Fairbanks throwing goose eggs, the Wildcats kept pecking away at the Bruins' John Totherow (4-1) before chasing the senior left-hander in a five-run fifth inning that gave the Wildcats an 8-0 lead.
Arundel had touched Totherow for single runs in the first, third and fourth innings, with the top of the order doing most of the damage.
Left-hander Andy Vermillion moved from No. 6 to the cleanup spot as part of a lineup juggle and the result was 10 hits -- three for extra bases -- 10 runs and seven RBIs from the first four batters.
Vermillion, who took Fairbanks' spot as the fourth hitter, had a pair of two-run triples, one to left center and one to right-center. The Wildcats right fielder scored twice and had a stolen base.
First baseman and No. 3 hitter Brian Burden also had three hits to go with three RBIs and two runs scored while leadoff batter Casey Trout (double) and No. 2 man Steve Sylvester each had two hits and three runs scored.
"John [Totherow] didn't have a good curveball today and he needs it to win," said Broadneck coach Mark Stover. "We weren't ready to play and didn't play smart."
Arundel was first-ball hitting (five of the first 13 batters hit the first pitch, another five the second pitch), not allowing Totherow to get ahead on the count.
Totherow did not record a strikeout and left with none out in the fifth charged with seven runs (four earned), two walks and six hits -- five by the first four hitters.
Arundel added four runs in the sixth off reliever Domenic Borro, and Fairbanks took a 12-0 lead into the seventh before walking the first two batters and giving way to Kurt Light.
Light got the final three outs but not before one run scored on a wild pitch with Rob Wakefield at the plate and the other on Wakefield's sac fly.