Gilman first baseman
Ryan Ripken, tall and lanky, pounds his fist in his glove as he watches his pitcher Matt Collins get in position for his next throw.
"We're all going off movement and putting pressure on the batter," said Ripken, a senior who will be attending South Carolina in the fall.
As the pitcher pulls his arm back, Ripken rushes toward home plate. It's a move other teams make. Gilman coach Larry Sheets calls it "typical bunt defense". But seldom do you see a first basemen get as close to the batter as Ripken did Monday. At one point, he looked to be within three-to-five feet.
Asked about how close he got, Ripken just laughed.
"If we're doing it right, I should be right there," he said. "So far, it's worked pretty well."
Collins said he doesn't see Ripken until after he's thrown the ball.
The goal is to get an out. Ripken said, "The best thing would be to get the lead runner, but any out is successful."
On this evening against Calvert Hall, a game Gilman would win, 4-0, Lee Lipinski is batting with two on. He smacks the ball away from Ripken down the third base line. Ripken retreats to first base in time to catch the throw from third for the first out of the inning.
"Sometimes the ball comes to [me], sometimes [it goes the other way], " Ripken said. "In either case we stop the big inning by making the big play."
In that fifth inning, after getting that first out, Collins intentionally walked Calvert Hall catcher Alex Murphy to load the bases and then got the next batter to hit into a double play to end the inning.