With its 6-3 win at Wilde Lake, combined with Reservoir's 4-1 victory over visiting Oakland Mills, Atholton became the 2013 Howard County baseball champion on Thursday, May 9.
Coming into the day, Atholton, Oakland Mills and Reservoir all had a shot at a share of the county championship. Had Wilde Lake beaten Atholton, and had Reservoir defeated Oakland Mills, the three teams would have finished with 12-5 league records.
But after dispatching Wilde Lake, the Raiders (13-4) only had to wait to see if Oakland Mills would beat Reservoir to clinch the other half of the title, or if Reservoir would win, giving Atholton the championship outright.
With the game tied, 1-1, in the sixth inning, the Gators finally broke through, scoring three runs in the bottom of the sixth on a single by Joey Janush, a hit batter, back-to-back RBI singles by Drew Stone and Tony Grabow, and an RBI double off the left field fence by Danny O'Hagan.
"We started off flat in the beginning, I don't know if it was because of the weather and we weren't sure if we were going to play today, so we needed to get focused and we said we weren't going to wait anymore until the seventh inning ," O'Hagan said. "We just swung early and often and scored some runs … we didn't want to let another team clinch (the county title) on our home field."
Reliever Jon Mierzwa earned the win by pitching three shutout innings, striking out five and allowing only two base runners.
"Coming out of this with a W is nice … if things fall your way and you win something out of it, that was a bonus, but just getting a game is huge going into the playoffs," Reservoir coach Adam Leader said.
Atholton and Reservoir both earned first round byes, while Oakland Mills will host Long Reach in the first round of the regional playoffs May 10.