The Hereford baseball team hasn't reached the state championship game since 1975, but the Bulls can snap that 39-year drought if they beat Southern, of Anne Arundel County, Tuesday night in the Class 2A state semifinal at Montgomery Blair High, in Silver Spring.
"We have gotten here playing the brand of baseball that Hereford has always played," Hereford coach Todd Hartshorn said. "That's playing every out and pitch — making the best of every opportunity, picking each other up and playing good fundamental baseball. Now, we have to continue to do that. We have gotten hot at the right time."
The Bulls (13-8) have won seven games in a row, including four playoff games on the road against Overlea, Chesapeake, Eastern Tech and Loch Raven.
Hereford advanced to the state semifinals after topping Loch Raven, 7-4, in the North Region final last Saturday, in Towson.
Senior Ben Demchak picked up the win, striking out nine and giving up two hits and three earned runs in six innings.
Junior first baseman Lucas Elliott hit a two-run homer and senior left fielder Alex Isennock went 4-for-4 with an RBI and scored two runs.
Runs might be harder to come by against Southern (15-9).
Hartshorn said he anticipates the Bulldogs starting one of two seniors: Steve Hogan (4-2, 2.20 ERA) or Connor McCowan (4-1, 3.91 ERA).
Hereford will counter with a lineup that features Isennock (batting .448, 17 RBIs), senior shortstop Tyler Oursler (.383, 18), junior third baseman Parker Lenivy (.348) and junior center fielder Brady King (.347).
Hereford will start senior right-hander Jacob Covington, who's 3-2 with a 3.60 ERA and has given up 27 hits and struck out 23 in 30 innings.
Covington will face a lineup spearheaded by junior shortstop Truman Thomas (.400, 16 RBIs, 2 home runs), junior first baseman Garrett Gibson (.364 12 RBIs) and Hogan (.353, 14 RBIs)
"They are pretty solid one through nine in the batting order," said Hartshorn, who is in his 14th year as coach of the Bulls. "And they have five or six pitchers. When you combine those things, they are very competitive."