In the top of the seventh inning at Oakland Mills on May 15, Marriotts Ridge took a 3-2 lead on an RBI ground ball by leadoff man Jake Bender, plating Matt Marinelli who had led off the inning with a single.
At the time, Connor Delaney — the Mustangs No. 5 hitter — thought the run would be enough for ace Eric Brown and the solid Marriotts Ridge defense.
"I definitely trusted our defense ... but I knew any more runs we would get would be insurance runs," Delaney said. "I was confident in our defense, but we'll take more runs any time."
Three batters later, after a strikeout and a pair of intentional walks to Marriotts Ridge's No. 3 and 4 hitters, Delaney had a chance to deliver those runs, and came through with a game-breaking grand slam en route to a 7-4 Marriotts Ridge win in the 2A South semifinals.
"He threw a good curveball, I just kind of waited and I made nice contact and it went out of the park," said Delaney, who had grounded out in his previous two at bats. "Two defensive teams, it was a heck of a baseball game and I was just happy to be here playing. It was a lot of fun, it doesn't get much better than this."
In the bottom of the seventh, Ben Hale and Joe Zayatz — Oakland Mills' No. 1 and 2 hitters — hit back-to-back solo home runs to cut Marriotts Ridge's lead to three with no outs, but then reliever Michael Dorsch came on to retire the last three batters in order on a pair of strikeouts around a ground out.
Zayatz pitched the complete game, allowing only one run through the first five innings, and hit two solo home runs and a double off of the center field fence.
"There's a lot of excitement in the school ... that was probably one of the biggest crowds for a high school game I've seen in awhile, especially for a regional semifinal," coach Brian Rau said. "We had runners in scoring position all day but could never get the key base hit."
Oakland Mills set a school record for wins this season with 17, and has now won 28 over the past two seasons after going 6-54 in the three seasons prior.
Marriotts Ridge will now visit Patuxent, a 1-0 winner over Lackey, in the 2A South regional championship on Friday, May 17, at 4:30 p.m.
The Mustangs won back-to-back regional championships in 2007 and 2008.
MR (15-7) 001 001 5 - 7 8 1
OM (17-4) 101 000 2 - 4 7 2
Brown, Dorsch (7) and Carson. Zayatz and Hale.
2B: OM — Zayatz, Russell. MR — Carson.
HR: OM — Zayatz (2), Hale. MR — Delaney.
3A East regional semifinals
Reservoir edged defending state champion J.M. Bennett, 6-5, avenging a 10-0 loss in last year's regional championship game.
The Gators took an early 1-0 lead in the second inning on an RBI single by Cody Morris, then chased starting pitcher Ben Turner with three more runs in the fourth.
The Clippers put the first four runners on base in the bottom of the first inning, but Reservoir catcher Danny O'Hagan and second baseman Joey Janush caught two runners stealing in that inning to stifle the rally.