It took a little while for Pat Lazear to regain his form on the baseball field. After spending the fall playing football, then wrestling until the first week of March, there was an adjustment period for Whitman's standout sophomore athlete.
"It's completely different," said Lazear, who rushed for 897 yards last season in football and finished fourth in the state wrestling tournament. "Wrestling is all brute strength and quickness. This is all hand-eye coordination."
Fortunately for Lazear and the Vikings, things have worked out just fine. With a key teammate sidelined yesterday by an injury, Lazear had a pair of doubles in extra innings and scored the go-ahead run in the 11th, leading visiting Whitman to an 8-6 victory over Walter Johnson in a Montgomery 4A West game.
It was the seventh win in eight games for the Vikings (3-0 Montgomery 4A West), who have established themselves as a contender in one of the area's most competitive jurisdictions.
Yesterday, Whitman won without sophomore Gabe Feldman, who has not allowed an earned run in 10 innings, posting victories against third-ranked Quince Orchard and sixth-ranked Gaithersburg. Feldman, who also plays shortstop and is batting .350 in the leadoff position, sat out with a hyperextended knee, which he hurt in Monday's victory over Quince Orchard.
The Vikings continued their early-season roll with contributions from several players. Jon Bornstein had a two-run single in the first and an RBI single in the ninth. Center fielder Dan Demarco scored twice and made a terrific running catch in the bottom of the seventh to help force extra innings. Right fielder Mark Rasmussen came in to pitch the final two innings and allowed only one hit.
But after Walter Johnson (1-5, 0-4) answered every Whitman rally -- second-team All-Met catcher Mike Moss had three hits for the Wildcats, including a key single in a three-run ninth inning -- the Vikings finally won in the 11th.
Lazear led off by lining a double over the left fielder's head, then scored on Dan Dimock's single to center. Dimock scored on a single by Ian Fitzgerald to make it 8-6. Lazear finished with three hits and impressed Coach Jim Kuhn with his play at catcher, where he took over for three-year starter Carl Ehrlich, who injured his knee during wrestling season.
"Baseball is one of those games where if you don't play all the time, it's a little rough going getting used to seeing pitching," Kuhn said. "But over the last couple weeks, he's getting it going and is seeing the ball very well."