North Caroline was twice a state semifinalist in previous seasons, but yesterday's game against Lansdowne was the Bulldogs' first appearance in the Class 2A championship game.
That inexperience was not evident, however, in the poise displayed by first-year coach Tom Keating and winning pitcher Rusty Rostein, one of only four seniors who started in an 8-1 shutdown of the Vikings at Joe Cannon Stadium in Harmans.
"I coached American Legion Post 29, and about five of these guys went to states with me, where we got our butts handed to us because we got caught up in all the glory," said Keating, 27. "We only lose three position players, so we'll be back."
The Bulldogs (15-7), from the city of Ridgely in the Eastern Shore's Caroline County, were led by Rostein, who showed why he entered the game with a 1.09 earned run average. Going primarily with a sneaky curve, he scattered five hits, walked two batters and struck out seven to improve his season's record to 5-1.
"My curveball was working for me pretty good, and I managed to stay ahead in a lot of the counts," Rostein said. "Plus, we don't usually get the leads that we got today, and that helped me out a lot, confidence-wise."
Rostein was staked to a 6-0 lead over the first two innings, as senior Daniel Fuchs (2-for-3 with a walk) nailed a first-inning, two-run single, and senior Kendall Cannon sparked a four-run second with his 385-foot two-run homer.
Junior cleanup hitter Adam Peix grounded out with the bases loaded in the first inning, but went 3-for-3 with a double, a run scored and an RBI the rest of the way.
The Bulldogs' Will McNatt had a hit and two RBIs as the Eastern Shore squad exhausted four different Lansdowne pitchers, including two left-handers.
Lansdowne's Tom Zimmerman had gone 3-for-4 with a pair of three-run homers in Friday's 12-2 semifinal rout of Howard, but struck out all three times at bat yesterday.
"He [Rostein] was a good pitcher," said Zimmerman. "He confused me with his curve. Everything we hit went right at somebody."
"We gave up six walks, a hit batter and a balk in the first two innings, and that's been our problem all year," said outgoing Lansdowne coach Dave Wright, a veteran who did not elaborate why he will not return to the Vikings.
Glenelg takes 1A crown
Glenelg's baseball season ended yesterday just as it began -- with a last-inning rally from a four-run deficit -- and with victory.
The only differences were that yesterday's 6-5 victory over Southern-Garrett took one extra inning and earned the No. 4-ranked Gladiators (22-2) a coveted Class 1A state championship trophy.
Glenelg pitcher Jeff Starcher stood out as the most prominent of several heroes. Starcher struck out 11 in a complete-game effort, went 3-for-4 and drove in two tying runs with a one-out, seventh-inning single.
But Dave Harris also went 3-for-4. He hit an RBI single in the fourth inning, and led off the bottom of the eighth inning by tripling on a 0-2 count off a high hanging curveball. Harris eventually scored on a game-winning infield single by Jon Hughes. It was Hughes' second straight game-winning hit.
Pub Date: 5/24/98