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Collum gives Osteen enough support

by David W. Unkle
September 5, 2002 - Atlantic League (AtL)

CAMDEN, NEW JERSEY---Less than 30 minutes before game time, Riversharks' outfielder Gary Collum found his named penciled in the starting lineup. A last minute substitute for the absent Bryon Gainey, Collum had the kind of night that inspires Disney movies. Even more impressive was the fact that the event coincided with the pitching appearance of Gavin Osteen, an occurrence which usually does not evoke storybook finishes.

With Collum hitting out of the number eight spot, he came up in the tenth inning with runners on first and second. Everyone at Campbell's Field knew the bunt was coming, and the Pride had the rotation play on.

Collum slapped a bunt past the moving infield, giving Camden (32-21) a 3-2 win in ten innings over the Nashua Pride (18-34).

"It was Gary's job tonight and he had a big night for us," said Riversharks' Manager Wayne Krenchicki. "He made some things happen. I told him, your key is to watch the shortstop (Chad Fonville) and if he's going towards the bag, don't let the third baseman come down your throat, but don't fall for the deke.

"He got the second baseman going towards first, the shortstop going to third base and the whole middle of the field was open for us. It was perfect."

What was perfect was Collum's performance at the plate. Who would have dreamed of a four-for-four night with the game-winning RBI in extra innings?

Collum tallied the first run after singling with two outs in the second inning. A walk to Yuri Sanchez moved Collum up to second base where he easily scored on Brad Strauss' single. Usually a harbinger of bad things to come, the Riversharks began leaving runners stranded on base. Fourteen runners, in fact, never crossed the plate. Just one or two more would have been good for Gavin Osteen (4-10). At least the hard-luck pitchers dropped his ERA to a league second-best 2.86.

"Our pitching is why we win most of our ballgames," said Krenchicki. "(Osteen) has had a tough season, but he's pitched outstanding but the wins have been short for him."

"I felt in total control," said Osteen after he was sent to the showers with 7.1 innings pitched and a 2-1 lead under his belt. "The ball was moving in and out really well. I was still keeping the ball down, still locating. I know I did my job tonight."

Jose Reyes's leadoff single in the eighth proved fatal for Osteen. After advancing to second on a Juan Rodriguez sacrifice and to third on a passed ball, Chad Fonville singled in the tying run. Still, the Riversharks had a chance to go ahead in the eighth inning. Gary Collum's fourth hit of the night followed by a Sanchez single and a Strauss walk left the bases loaded with two outs. Alex Eckelman went down swinging to add to the LOB total. Calvin Jones (3-1) came on in relief of Osteen and earned the win in 2.2 innings of work.

Baseball is a strange game for Gavin Osteen, who pitches well outing after outing but cannot get a win, or offensive support for that matter.

"I have never been through anything in my life (like this season)," said Osteen. "The important thing is to get out of here with a win."

Like Wally Pipp before him, Bryon Gainey unexpectedly missed a game and someone else stepped in and had a big night. The Riversharks (and Collum) would be happy for a fraction of the career success that Wally Pipp's replacement had.

"It was a fastball middle-away and I just wanted to hit it on the ground," said Collum. "I was lucky enough to hit it past the pitcher. Things just went my way. That is what keeps packing them into the ballpark night after night - the unexpected."

The Long Island Ducks close out the final home stand of the regular season in a three-game weekend set. The Riversharks struck out 26 times in the three game series. They face the Atlantic League strikeout leader Julian Heredia tomorrow night who will surely add to his league-leading total. The Riversharks finish the regular the season on the road against the Somerset Patriots and the Atlantic City Surf.

The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central.


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Atlantic League Stories from September 5, 2002


The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer(s), and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.


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