Orioles Hall of Fame manager Earl Weaver was known to say that momentum is only as good as your next day's starting pitcher. So far this season, Mt. Hebron has been on a roll whenever left-hander Brady Smouse has been on the mound.
The Vikings (4-2) rolled past visiting River Hill (2-4), 8-2, on Monday afternoon as Smouse went five innings, allowing just one unearned run in the fifth on a Richie Lancashire RBI single after an error.
The performance came on the heels of a complete game four-hitter, with eight strikeouts, in a 5-1 win over Century during spring break.
"He's doing a real nice job mixing his pitches up a bit and thats half the battle when you're on the mound," coach Brian Culley said. "He kept a good-hitting team off balance. He's been doing well and I don't want to jinx him but he's a senior and he has high expectations for himself."
It didn't hurt Smouse's confidence on Monday when his teammates scored two runs in the second inning and six in the third to put the Vikings ahead, 8-0.
The Vikings' offense was led by Marty Stevenson (2B, 2 RBIs), Paul Lutchenkov (3/3, 2B), Sean Kelly (2 H) and Jacob Meyer (2 H), among others.
"This is the best we've hit the ball probably all year long, the weather is nice," Culley said. "It was nice to see everyone come out and join the hit parade ... that let Brady sit back and relax and pound the zone a little bit more."
In fact, Smouse had a no-hitter going into the fifth inning.
"We tried to stay away from (Lancashire) a lot," Smouse said. "The curveball was working a lot ... now that it's getting hot, it's working."
"We're playing well as a team so far and hopefully we can keep it up."
River Hill — the last Howard County team to win a state title, in 2009 — has struggled in the early going of this season, but had some positives in the game.
The Hawks' bullpen, featuring Ben Borucki and Sam Kolodrubetz, held the Vikings scoreless from the third inning on, with Kolodrubetz striking out three in the sixth inning.
And in the top of the seventh inning, Karan Sinha led off with a home run to deep center field to account for the final score.
Around the league
Atholton 14, Howard 1
Atholton's bats came alive at Howard, as the Raiders cruised to a 14-1 win in six innings.
Michael Slayton struck out eight in five innings and drove in two runs. Brady Acker doubled and singled, scored three runs and stole two bases. Nick Raulin doubled, singled and scored twice. Paul Burmester tripled and drove in three runs. In the sixth inning, nine Atholton pinch hitters combined for five hits and five runs to end the game by the mercy rule.
For the Lions, Darian Dudley tripled and Logan Seitz drove him in with one of his two hits. Freshman Eric Greenbaum also had two hits for Howard.
Oakland Mills 2, Hammond 1
The Scorpions edged Hammond in a well-played game, 2-1. The Scorpions scored the tying and winning runs in the bottom of the fourth. Joe Zayatz (2B, 3B), Kyle Madden-Stricker (RBI) and Evan Russell (3B) each went 2-3 for Oakland Mills. Madden-Stricker also pitched the complete game with seven strikeouts and three walks, and allowing one run on six hits.