— Heading into Sunday, all Boys' Latin had to do to win its second straight Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association B Conference title was to avoid doing something it hadn't done all season.
With just one conference loss in 14 regular-season games, the Lakers suffered an uncharacteristic loss on Sunday to extend the tournament one more day. Back at Harford Community College on Monday for the winner-take-all contest, the Lakers avoided their first losing streak against B Conference opponents with a 4-0 victory over Severn to capture the conference title for the second straight year.
Ned Ruffin pitched a complete-game three-hit shutout and struck out 15 to help the Lakers win their third conference title since 2008. He stranded runners on third in the fourth and sixth innings, but otherwise was in control the whole game. He struck out the last six batters he faced and didn't walk anyone.
"It's easy to get upset if we go out there and we kick the ball around and don't give ourselves a chance to win," but we didn't do that," Severn coach Robert Laffey said. "There's not anything more I can ask for. We ran into a buzzsaw. That kid was unbelievable tonight. We saw him earlier in the year and he wasn't quite that good, so we thought we might have had a fighter's chance."
The Lakers took control right away with two runs in the of the first inning. Cole Jarrett scored on a wild pitch and Matt Purnell walked with the bases loaded to force in another run. Boys' Latin had a chance for a bigger inning, but Ethan O'Malley struck out Justus Brown looking to minimize the damage.
Boys' Latin added to its lead with two more runs without the benefit of a hit in the fourth. Brown and Ben Barton each walked to open the inning. Courtesy runner Eric Gazin stole second, then as he was attempting to steal third the throw went into left field and he scored to make it 3-0. Jackson Gazin's sacrifice fly scored Barton to give the Lakers a 4-0 lead.
Ruffin, who retired the first eight batters he faced before a Everett Cortes single in the bottom of the third, struck out at least two hitters in six of his seven innings, including striking out the side in the sixth after a leadoff double from Brendan Gauthier.
"I felt good. My teammates played well behind me and really got the job done," Ruffin said. "We were so confident. That (losing on Sunday) didn't really shake us. We knew we just had to put that game aside and focus on today."
The Lakers had a chance to wrap up the championship on Sunday, but the Admirals made them wait a day with a 7-3 victory. Ryan Jack gave up three hits over six innings and O'Malley homered in the win that forced the deciding game on Monday. Boys' Latin hadn't lost two games in a row since in lost to A Conference schools Gilman and John Carroll in the first week of the season.
The Admirals lost to Glenelg Country on Tuesday and were forced to advance through the losers bracket. They had won three straight games since the loss, averaging 13 runs in the three victories.
"That allowed us to get into a rhythm. There's no days off and it's just back-to-back," Laffey said. "We got into a really good offensive rhythm and it would have taken a really good pitching performance, and they absolutely got it."
WP: Ruffin; LP: O'Malley. 2B: SE - Jack, Gauthier. RBI: BL - Purnell, J. Gazin.