Swarmin’ Hornets prevail in ‘dogfight’
DAMASCUS 16, WALTER JOHNSON 14
Covered cap to cleats in infield dirt, Damascus junior Mitchell Kline thought back to the six runs he scored Saturday and tried to pick out his favorite. He came up with two.
“Probably the two that were really close at home that I had to dive around to the corner of the bag, swipe it with my hand,” Kline said after the Swarmin’ Hornets’ 16-14 victory at Walter Johnson.
The contest tilted back and forth over the three-plus hours, with both teams taking advantage of sloppy play.
It was just one of “those” games, Damascus Coach Greg Blake said.
“I feel like WJ coaches would feel the same way,” Blake said. “It was one of those games that ended up being a football score.”
In the opening innings, it seemed as if Damascus (2-1, 2-1 Montgomery County), which was coming off a 7-5 loss to Quince Orchard, had put Walter Johnson (1-2, 1-2) in an insurmountable hole.
The Swarmin’ Hornets were regulars on the base paths in the first three frames. Kline led off the game with a single, moved to second on a wild pitch and then scored on a single off the bat of senior Eric Lansinger, a UNC Charlotte signee.
It was just the beginning, as Damascus took an 8-1 lead into the bottom of the third.
That’s when the fun started. The Wildcats tacked on two in the bottom of the frame, then in the fourth, with Lansinger on the mound, began to turn the tables.
“It was a rough outing for me,” Lansinger. “I lost it in my head a little bit. I wasn’t really in it mentally.”
A pair of singles put runners on the bases, and then one runner came around to score when Lansinger was called for a balk.
“I’m not going to comment on the balk call,” he said. “Personally, I don’t think I balked, but, umpire’s discretion, that’s his call.”
The next batter worked the count to 3-0, at which point sophomore catcher Mark Kline began to approach the mound. Lansinger raised an open hand, motioning for him to return.
The next pitch was a ball.
Before the inning was over, Walter Johnson had taken a 10-8 lead thanks to messy play from the Swarmin’ Hornets. The final three innings played out in similar fashion, with the lead changing hands two more times before Damascus claimed a 14-13 advantage in the sixth.
Two more runs in the top of the seventh gave the Swarmin’ Hornets a cushion that, for once, proved too much to overcome. The final two Wildcats batters struck out, the former looking and the latter swinging.
Blake doesn’t have any bold plans to shore up his team’s defense or his pitcher’s accuracy. Saturday’s game was an anomaly, one the Wildcats were ecstatic to walk away from with a win.
“It was a dogfight,” Lansinger said.
Walter Johnson’s Jack Heffernan pitches during a game “that ended up being a football score,” according to Damascus Coach Greg Blake.