Locked in a pitchers' duel with Oxon Hill High School's Butch Jones, Arundel's Kyle Coffman wasn't worried, he insisted. He was positive his team would get him a run in the Maryland state AA championship baseball game Saturday night.
Coffman's confidence was rewarded when batterymate Steve Keppler singled down the left field line to score Bobby Smyles in the sixth inning. Coffman, who allowed only three singles, walked one and struck out 11, retired the Clippers in the last inning to preserve a 1-0 victory at McCurdy Field in Frederick, Md.
"I knew we'd win this one somehow," said Coffman, who finished the season 11-1. "I had really good stuff, probably the best I've had all season. Oxon Hill likes to pull the ball a lot and I used a lot of off-speed stuff to keep them off balance."
Keppler, who also figured in a controversy, said he had hoped to be the one to decide things.
"We weren't hitting the ball real solid," he said. "But I got a pitch I could pull and hit it real solid. I hit it hard and it skipped past the third baseman."
Coffman faced 25 batters and didn't allow a runner past second.
The Clippers (16-5) did get the leadoff batter on in the sixth inning. But when Jon Capps came to bat, Keppler told the umpire Capps' bat was unmarked. National Federation rules call for a circular mark 18 inches from the knob. After a dicussion between the coaches, umpires and Maryland baseball chairman Earl Hersh, Capps was called out.
Clippers Coach Donny Keys, not particularly happy over Arundel's timing for such a complaint, admitted the bat was improper and didn't argue. "We had new bats this year but this one didn't have a mark for some reason," he said. "But I don't think the situation hurt our concentration. Coffman's curve did. It was dropping two feet and we couldn't hit him."
Instead of having no outs and a runner on first, the Clippers had an out and Keys had to change his strategy. Coffman easily got the next two batters and his team was 21-3.