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June 21, 2014

Sweet season: Shakamak wins Class A baseball title

Lakers rally late to beat Rockville 3-2


Rarely, if ever, will you see a high school team with a defensive alignment like Rockville has, with third baseman Dalton Clark playing at least 15 feet off the third-base line.
The obvious implication: no right-handed hitter is going to pull the ball against Dalton Laney, and that strategy worked perfectly for more than half of the Class A state championship game Saturday afternoon at Victory Field.
With two out in the bottom of the fifth inning, however, Shakamak's Brett Yeryar and Mike Huddleston got hits the opposite way, Yeryar driving in the Lakers' first run and Huddleston two more, and the Lakers sent coach Chip Sweet out with a 3-2 win and a state championship.
Coach Sweet had left the coaching ranks at Victory Field once before, stepping down after a runner-up finish in 2006, and for quite awhile Saturday it looked like his second and final (?) retirement would have a similar ending.
Laney, painting the outside corner with a mid-80s fastball and occasionally mixing in a knee-buckling curveball, seemed in complete control, escaping his only jam in the second inning by striking out two batters with one out and the bases loaded.
And several Lakers grounded weakly to the left side.
"[Laney] is pretty good; that's probably been a good defense for [the Rox] all year," Sweet said afterward. "He lived on outside part of the plate, and if you keep trying to pull that pitch you'll just hit weak ground balls." 
"When you throw as hard as Dalton does, and you throw the ball [on the outer half of the plate], you'd like to see [hitters] try to pull the ball," coach Bob Kyle of Rockville explained.
Rockville scored in the top of the first inning when Tyler Rapp doubled to the right-center gap, took third on an errant pickoff throw and scored on Laney's sacrifice fly, and in the top of the third those two players combined for another run when Rapp was hit by a pitch and came home on a Laney double.

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