Glenelg started a new season yesterday the same way the Gladiators ended last season -- with a bang, not a whimper.
The defending Class 1A state champs scored five times in the first inning, received strong pitching from Jeff Starcher and Brandon Robertson and went on to defeat Hammond, 6-1.
Matt Thrasher hit a grand slam in that first inning to deliver all the runs that Glenelg would need. He also had a single.
Jason Weszka added a bases-empty home run in the fourth inning to go with a second-inning single. A year ago on opening day, Weszka homered twice against Hammond.
Paul Brooks, Rob LaHayne, Brad Diver and Jon Hughes also had hits for Glenelg.
Starcher, last season's Sun Howard County Player of the Year, looked in mid-season form on the mound after some early control problems.
On the plus side, he pitched five innings, giving up three hits and one run and striking out nine batters -- three in a strong fifth inning. On the minus side, he walked five, two in each of the first two innings.
Starcher, a right-hander who posted an 8-1 record last season, was throwing a new pitch, a two-seam fastball that effectively tailed in to right-handed hitters and away from left-handers. Hammond batters never zeroed in on that pitch.
He also threw a big curve and a regular fastball that had some zip. Four of his nine strikeouts were on called third strikes.
Robertson, a left-hander, pitched the final two innings, striking out three and allowing one hit.
Not all of Glenelg's play was perfect. Its base running and defense each broke down twice. The Gladiators had a man picked off first and one called out for missing second, and they made two errors.
Two Hammond errors and two walks opened the gate in the five-run first inning, as Glenelg's first four batters reached base. Glenelg's only hit that inning off starting pitcher Kevin Schwartz was Thrasher's grand slam.
Keith Umberger hit an RBI single in the third inning for Hammond's lone run.
"We just didn't get the key hit to ignite the team," Bears coach Bob Maxey said. "We played 90 percent. That's not good enough against a team like Glenelg."
C. Milton Wright 8, Westminster 2: Sean Bantner's two-out single sparked a four-run third inning and Gavin Martin pitched four hitless innings in relief to spark the 13th-ranked Mustangs (2-0) over the No. 14 Owls.
Pub Date: 3/24/99