The Mount Hebron Vikings won their ninth straight league game and clinched a tie for the Howard County championship yesterday.
The No. 5-ranked Vikings (15-3 overall, 14-2 league), behind starting pitcher Steve Sansone who retired 13 of the first 14 batters he faced, defeated two-time defending state champ Glenelg, 6-3.
Meanwhile, the Vikings received help from River Hill, which upset second-place Hammond, 7-5, dropping the Bears (14-4, 12-4) two games behind with two games to play.
Sansone (6-1), aided by four outstanding defensive plays, ended up with a five-hitter and his second complete-game victory of the week. The Vikings won their fourth game this week.
"I threw a lot more curves than usual today and mixed in the splitter and fastball," Sansone said. "And I dropped down quite a few times because they're a good-hitting team. This was a big game that we needed to win."
Sansone, a senior right-hander, struck out seven and walked three. He praised his defense and catcher Joe Michalski. "Joe called a good game," Sansone said.
Mount Hebron first baseman Brian Pearson made a sensational diving catch toward the hole in the second inning, just before Paul Brooks hit his sixth home run of the season for No. 14-ranked Glenelg (10-6 overall and league).
Left fielder John Crow recovered a drive off the fence by Brian Hollrah in the fourth inning and threw out Glenelg's Jason Weszka at third base. Weszka had walked. Sansone then picked off Hollrah at second base.
"That top of the fourth inning may have been the ballgame," Vikings coach Matt Forsyth said.
Vikings second baseman Max Marcotic saved at least one more run in the sixth inning when he made an over-the-shoulder running catch of Joe Isaac's lead-off pop fly. Two walks and then RBI singles by Hollrah and Rob LaHayne scored two runs for Glenelg.
Glenelg starting pitcher Chris Bowen, a junior left-hander, shut out Mount Hebron 4-0 in their last league loss April 5. But Bowen, who threw 120 pitches beating Centennial, 2-1, Monday, struggled yesterday, allowing four runs and four hits in the second inning.
Bowen gave up a one-out home run to Crow, a single to Steve Swiech, walks to Pearson and Blake Phillips, a two-run single to Derok Roach, a walk to Sansone and an RBI single to Michalski.