It isn't often that two pitchers each throw fewer than 80 pitches in the same seven-inning game, but it happened yesterday in Millersville, as top-ranked Arundel escaped with a 1-0 victory over No. 11 Old Mill.
Both perennial Anne Arundel County powers were coming off losses Monday, and an unearned run was all that separated Arundel junior ace Chip Ziegler and Old Mill junior left-hander Steve Johnson, who took a no-hitter into the seventh inning.
Neither pitcher deserved to lose in what was a game that the baseball purists love to watch, but one that those who like hitting and scoring deplore.
"I like a lot of hitting, those 12-11 games," said Old Mill coach Mel Montgomery. "Purists, I guess, like this kind of baseball, but the only problem is there can be little difference in winning or losing, and it puts a lot of pressure on some of these guys."
The one-run difference was made possible by two Old Mill errors and a passed ball in the second inning that sent Jeff Lloyd to third base with one out. Jon Hanczaryk followed with a sacrifice fly to give Ziegler the only run he needed.
"Ziegler was hard-nosed when it counted and pitched himself out of some jams," said Arundel coach Bernie Walter.
Old Mill didn't take advantage of leadoff hits from the second through the sixth innings. Jason Galloway started the bottom of the sixth with a fly-ball double down the right-field line off the glove of a diving Lloyd.
Dan Carpenter walked, and with runners on first and second, Antoine Cooksey lifted a fly ball to Lloyd. Galloway tagged and raced to third, only to be ruled out by the umpires for leaving too soon.
Reaching back for some heat, Ziegler caught Jimmy Jackson looking on a 1-2 pitch to end the threat, and the Pats were retired in order in the seventh.
Ziegler (7-1), who posted his second straight shutout and county-leading fourth overall, has yielded two earned runs (both on homers) in 59 innings for a metro-area-leading 0.24 ERA.
"That's the closest game I've been in all year," said Ziegler, who scattered six hits, struck out six and walked one on three days' rest after he shut out Glen Burnie on Friday on a one-hitter.
Hanczaryk's sacrifice fly started a run of 16 straight Wildcats that were set down by Johnson (4-3), who fell one out short of earning a no-hitter.
Johnson retired the first two Wildcats in the seventh before Nick Pleyo beat out an infield hit and Lloyd followed with a high hopper through the left side.
Johnson, whose only walk was on four pitches to Ziegler to start the game, then got Hanczaryk to fly out and finish with a two-hitter.