The Hereford baseball team has made steady improvement since late March, but it took Monday's performance against No. 14 Dulaney to see just how far the Bulls have come.
Still, there's reason to believe they have even more upside following the battle against the Lions.
Unranked Hereford combined excellent defense, good pitching and 16 hits to knock off Dulaney, 10-3, in Timonium.
"Dulaney is a great baseball team," Hereford coach Todd Hartshorn said. "So when you beat them in the way we did, then you know you did a lot of things right."
When Hereford last met the Lions in 2012, the Bulls were swept in a doubleheader by a combined 16 runs.
And Hereford players remembered the feeling, which made their decisive victory that much sweeter.
"You could tell they really wanted to beat us," Dulaney coach Ryan Wolfsheimer said. "They were amped up."
Hereford senior shortstop Jay Patti contributed a home run, three hits and four RBIs to lead the Bulls' attack. Ryan Abbott drove in three runs on two hits and Alex Issenock scored and singled twice.
Patrick Wetzelberger picked up the win, giving up three hits and one earned run in five innings while striking out eight to improve to 2-0 and lower his ERA to 1.86.
The senior breezed through a lineup that's pretty much used to having its way against most Baltimore County opponents this spring.
"When he can throw all his pitchers for strikes and keep guys off balance, he is good as anybody," Hartshorn said. "He was fantastic today."
Meanwhile, Dulaney junior right-hander Devin Conroy wasn't as sharp as he usually is on the mound. He surrendered four earned runs on eight hits and four walks in four innings. He struck out four.
Hereford (6-3) scored twice in the second inning on singles by Abbott and Brady Ziegel to take a 2-1 advantage.
Dulaney (9-5) made it 2-1 in the bottom of the second, getting consecutive doubles from Kurtis Ewers and Jake Sousa. It took the Lions four more innings before they crossed the plate again.
The Bulls went ahead, 4-1, in the third on Bryce Fava's two-run single and then added two more runs in the fifth off of Kris Ewers.
Eli Ginsburg and Fava stared the inning with back-to-back singles before Abbott sacrificed them to second and third. After Ziegel struck out, Patti drove in Ginsburg and Fava with a clutch single to left field.
"Any time you get a butt-whipping like this it's always a surprise," Wolfsheimer said. "Especially, considering it just doesn't happen to us (often). We played well defensively until that error in the seventh inning, but we didn't hit. They had 16 hits. It's been a while since we have given up that many hits."