Kempton Twirls a Gem

  Greensboro, NC (10/04/02) - Surprise starter Luke Kempton hurled a complete-game five-hitter as Team Black captured Game One of the 2002 Guilford College World Series, 8-2.

"I have always felt the Greensboro Diamondbacks had a better idea of what pitching was all about than Coach Baker,"  Kempton said.  "Finally I had a chance to prove it.  I'm just looking to be the next Guilford pitcher to get his shot at pro ball."

Kempton started strong and finished strong in an efficient one-hour, 15-minute outing.  The only blemishes on his line were an unearned run scored by Rob Bittner after an Alex Blucher throwing error and a sixth-inning Brian Slate run batted in following Andrew Duffy's leadoff double.  Kempton fanned none and walked none while facing only four batters over the minimum 21 in the seven-inning tussle.

Team Cardinal starter and loser, Mike Balash, didn't fare as well, surrendering run-scoring hits to Brad Franklin and RJ Marks in the first, an RBI single to Jeff Roberts in the third and a leadoff home run to Gabe Staub in the 4th.  But Balash hung tough until two out in the fifth.

"I was having trouble throwing my breaking ball for strikes, and every time I left my fastball up, somebody hit it hard," Balash said.

After retiring Kempton and Roberts leading off the fifth, Balash left one of those fastballs up to Brad Franklin, who deposited it over the leftfield fence for a solo shot, which was followed by RJ Marks' third single of the day and Balash's only walk of the day to Matt Spoerlein.

The Team Cardinal management team, seeing their starter losing his stuff, went to the bullpen and summoned shortstop, Zach Morgan.  Morgan's long and storied history in the GCWS reads much like that of Jim Kelly's Super Bowl history - he is always there, but he never wins.

When Morgan took to the mound, Team Black reminisced about a gopher ball Morgan served up to Kempton in last year's fall classic. This year, it was Gabe Staub.  Staub's 473 foot homer cleared the bases and gave Team Black an insurmountable 8-1 lead.

"No, I wasn't thinking about last year," Morgan said.  "Yes, I know I've lost every year, yes, I made a bad pitch, but hey, I got everybody else out."

He did indeed, but Staub's blast was the crusher.  "I was looking knuckleball, and it was just one of those times when everything seemed to go into slow motion,"  Staub said.  "I remember reading 'Rawlings' on the ball, right about where it said 'TPX' on my bat.  The rest is history."

The two teams square off again Sunday with the first pitch slated for 12:00 noon.  Team Black will send sophomore Dave Shaffer to the mound in hopes of their stretching the series lead to 2-0, while Team Cardinal will send co-manager and spiritual leader Mike Goettler to the hill to try and even up the series.  Concern in the Cardinal camp lies in the availability of heavy hitting designated hitter Matt Webb, whose final words while leaving the park Friday were "Watch for me on TV Saturday at the Tennessee - Arkansas game."

We all know how a trip to Neyland Stadium between games can take its toll on a fella.