FREDERICK -- No matter how deep the hole, Glenelg always seems to climb out of it.
The Gladiators dug themselves the deepest of holes in yesterday's Class 1A state semifinal game against Havre de Grace at McCurdy Field, giving up nine runs in the very first inning.
Yet Havre de Grace (20-4) couldn't hold onto to its enormous lead and Glenelg rallied for a 20-12 victory and the right to play for the state championship at noon Saturday at Joe Cannon Stadium against either Cambridge or Southern-Garrett.
Comebacks are becoming a Glenelg trademark. So is the relief pitching of Brandon Robertson.
"We were shell-shocked in that first ining," Robertson said. "But I've said it before, it's hard to keep us down."
Just as he did in the regional championship game against hard-hitting Catoctin, the junior left-hander again excelled in 5 1/3 innings of relief, allowing five hits, three runs, striking out five and walking two.
"Brandon pitched great," said Dave Harris, who went 3-for-5 with four RBIs.
But Harris' offensive performance was second to that of Jeff Starcher, who hit two home runs and went 3-for-4 with two walks and six RBIs.
"I was just sitting on the fastball. Neither of their pitchers could get their curve over the plate to me," Starcher said.
Glenelg (21-2), a three-time state champion with its latest state title in 1995, answered Havre de Grace's nine-run first inning with seven runs in the bottom of the first on three hits, two walks, a hit batter and an error.
Warriors starter Matt Blethen, who is headed to West Virginia on a baseball scholarship and was 8-1 with a 2.66 ERA and 73 strikeouts in 50 innings, had control problems.
"The umpire wasn't calling the low pitch and I'm a low-ball pitcher, so after a while I started throwing all fastballs and they just hit the ball," Blethen said.
Blethen, a left-hander, wasn't surprised Glenelg came back. "I've been following their box scores, so I knew they're a comeback team. But their first inning really did it to us," he said.
Glenelg is batting .384 as a team and every batter in Glenelg's lineup had at least one hit.
No hit was bigger than Jon Hughes' first home run of the season, a three-run opposite-field shot to left in the fifth inning that broke a 12-12 tie.
Hughes was 3-for-5 and started a two-run two-out rally in the third inning with a bunt single.
Starcher also hit a three-run homer in the eight-run fifth inning that included RBI singles by Harris and Matt Thrasher.
Jeremy Shry had a 3-for-5 day while Matt Kozora doubled and reached base four of five times. Robertson singled, walked twice and had a sacrifice bunt. Mike Rice singled and walked twice.
Jason Kingsley and Merrill Dougherty each had three hits for the Warriors.
One of Dougherty's hits was a three-run home run in the first inning. He also tripled home a run that same inning.
Pub Date: 5/20/98