The North Harford Hawks were trailing 2-0 after two innings of Wednesday's UCBAC baseball championship, but the Chesapeake (upper) Division champs turned things around quickly, scoring six times in the top of the third en route to a 16-2 win over Susquehanna (lower) Division champ Havre de Grace.
The victory earned North Harford its second UCBAC in the last three seasons.
The game was halted after the bottom of the fifth by the 10-run rule.
Havre de Grace, playing as the host team at Harford Community College, managed just one hit on the day, but it was a big one – Corey Thompson belted an offering from North Harford starter Nic Hammer over the outfield wall for a two-run homer in the bottom of the second inning.
Hammer, who effectively mixed a hard curve with his fastball, struck out three over four innings to earn the win. Brandon Plummer came on in relief and tossed a hitless fifth inning to seal up the Hawks' title-game victory.
Hammer had a big day at the plate as well, belting a pair of doubles and driving in four RBIs.
In the top of the third, the Hawks' offense went to work. After the Hawks had posted what would be the game-winning run, Hammer hit a two-out double to the wall, which brought Brian Shaffer to the plate. Working with his plan to attack the first pitch he saw, Shaffer belted a fastball from Havre de Grace hurler Christian Amici over the scoreboard in left center field to put his team up, 5-2.
"That was definitely the longest I've ever hit the ball in a game," Shaffer said. "The coaches said it was probably 400-plus feet. With the way I've been swinging the bat lately, I told myself before I went up that I was going to swing at the first pitch I got. [Amici] threw me a fastball that went right over the plate and I jumped on it."
The Hawks got one more run in the third, when Scott Angstadt ripped an RBI double to give North Harford a 6-2 lead.
North Harford scored one run in the fourth, then exploded for nine runs in the top of the fifth. Hammer had the big hit in North Harford's nine-run outburst, launching a two-RBI double off the wall in left field. Prior to Hammer's double, Luke Johnson cracked a bases-loaded, two RBI single.
Josh Garcia had a team-high three hits, while Plummer roped a double for the Hawks, who had 13 hits.
North Harford was just 24 hours removed from having clinched the Chesapeake Division title, coming from behind to defeat Rising Sun, 6-5, on Tuesday.
"That was a big game yesterday, winning the Chesapeake," Hammer said. "We're on a roll right now, and we'd like to keep it going. We have six more games to go before we can get back to Ripken Stadium [for the 3A state title game]. That's been our goal for a couple of years now."
Havre de Grace, which went 16-3 in the regular season, clinched the lower-division title with a near-perfect 13-1 record.
North Harford clinches
North Harford came from behind in the seventh inning Tuesday to top host Rising Sun, 6-5, and win the Chesapeake (upper) Division baseball title.
The win, on the final day of the regular season, earned the Hawks a spot in the last UCBAC Championship game.
In Wednesday's UCBAC title contest, the Hawks will travel to Harford Community College for a 5 p.m. matchup with Susquehanna (lower) Division champ Havre de Grace.
The last meeting of North Harford and Rising Sun was equally as thrilling, with North Harford's Nic Hammer blasting a three-run homer in the bottom of the seventh to give the Hawks a 10-9 win over the previously undefeated Tigers.
Tuesday's contest was the continuation of a game that was suspended in the third inning on April 25.