Last season, Loch Raven suffered a heart-breaking one-run loss to Walkersville in the Class 2A state semifinal at Arundel. The Raiders were one out away from victory when an error and a three-run homer suddenly turned a seemingly certain victory into a season-ending defeat.
The Raiders again made the state semifinal at Arundel this year. But this game had a happier ending as Paul Kollman and Andy Gaynor, two prominent players in last season's defeat, led No. 18 Loch Raven to a 10-5 victory over No. 8 Atholton in the Class 2A game yesterday.
Loch Raven (11-6) advances to the state title game for the first time in school history. The Raiders will meet the Fort Hill-Caroline winner Saturday at 3: 30 p.m at Joe Cannon Stadium in Harmans.
Gaynor dropped the fly ball that would have ended last year's game, and Kollman allowed the homer. But Gaynor went 3-for-4 yesterday with two runs scored and two RBIs to pace the 17-hit Loch Raven attack. He had the game's key hit, a two-run single in the top of the first that gave Loch Raven a 4-0 lead.
"When I first got here, I was nervous but I loosened up throughout the game," said Gaynor, who played third base yesterday.
Kollman, meanwhile, scattered eight hits as he threw a complete game. He needed 93 pitches and stuck with his fastball after Atholton (18-7) began hitting his off-speed stuff.
"I wanted this game pretty bad," said Kollman, 3-for-5 with an RBI and a run. "I think we felt we had an advantage because we'd been here before. I think that last year helped us more than it hurt us."
Loch Raven quickly jumped on top. Matt Anderson led off the game with a double off the left-field wall against Atholton starter Adam Beaver. Josh Zumbrun (2-for-4, 2 RBIs) then singled him home. Sage Hanna (2-for-5, 2 RBIs) added an RBI single, and Gaynor later lined the two-run single to right for the 4-0 lead.
Atholton made it 4-3 in the second when Wade Zancan (2-for-3, 1 RBI) doubled in one run, and Steve Gluth (2-for-2, 2 RBIs) tripled in two more.
Gaynor led off the fourth with a single and later scored for a 5-3 lead. Atholton threatened in the fourth, but Justin Kazaras combined with Mark Little for a 4-6-3 double play on a Beaver grounder -- one batter after Little dropped a toss on the same attempted double play -- to end the inning.
"The four runs [in the first] made them press a little," said Loch Raven coach Michael Bryant. "They came back, but we answered with a crooked number every time."
MIAA B tournament
Arlington Baptist 10, Friends 6: Jason Jones pitched a complete game with six strikeouts and also went 2-for-2 with a triple to help the visiting Eagles (8-8) defeat the Quakers (8-6) in the tournament's losers bracket.
Pub Date: 5/20/98