By the looks of things, unless you wear the colors blue and gold and have the letters 'SP' on your cap, it may be hard to defeat the Chesapeake baseball team.
River Hill found that out on Friday, as the Hawks came to Pasadena to face the Cougars, who have only lost to Severna Park this season, and after a dominating performance by Chesapeake ace Joe Seidler and clutch hits by shortstop Dillon Oxyer and catcher Tommy McNamara, the Hawks headed back to Howard County a 5-0 loser to the Class 3A East Region title winner.
Chesapeake will play C. Milton Wright, the North Region winner, at either 4 or 7 p.m. on Tuesday at Joe Cannon Stadium in the state semifinals.
Seidler, who was effective but not brilliant, spotted his fastball well in throwing the complete-game shutout, allowing three hits, two hit batsmen and only one walk, while striking out four on 90 pitches. Of the 27 batters he faced, he threw first-pitch strikes to 20 of them and finished throwing 63 percent of his pitches for strikes to increase his record to 6-1.
"Joe was just being Joe out there. Joe located his fastball very, very well and threw enough off speed to keep them honest and everything was good," Chesapeake coach Ken King said of his junior workhorse. "This crew is special in their own way and this is nice to do it with them."
McNamara stroked a double with men on first and second to open the scoring in the fourth. Oxyer belted a bases-loaded, bases-clearing double in the sixth shortly after the first of two weather delays to give the Cougars and Seidler three insurance runs, making the score 5-0. Play would then be halted a second time, for 15 minutes. The first delay came in the bottom of the sixth with two outs and a Cougar on first.
"I just tried to hit my spots as best as possible so a lot of ground balls were forced throughout the game," Seidler said. "Usually when I hit my spots there are going to be ground outs. That is what I try to do best. For three years that I've been here, it has been pitching and defense that we do really well. If we let up no runs, we're going to win."
Seidler set River Hill down in order in the first and allowed a base hit to Luke Parker in the second and Josh Mann in the third. The righty hit Tucker Finkelston in the fourth and walked Mann on four pitches in the fifth, before getting the Hawks in order in the sixth. After the second delay, Seidler came back out to finish his work but hit Alex Florenzo ahead of a base hit by Ian Sterling. The junior got Mann to bounce back to him for a game-ending double play and back-to-back region titles for Chesapeake.
River Hill had played three games previously this week, so their pitching staff was down to their third or fourth best. Danny Selby did an admirable job through the first three innings, but the second time through the order was the downfall for Selby.
After Seidler led off the fourth with a deep fly out to center, Colton Spangler walked and Blake Rebstock legged out an infield single. McNamara drove on offering within a step of the wall in center field, scoring Spangler. After Dylan Young was hit by a pitch to load the bases, Bobby Quesenberry drew a five-pitch walk to score the Cougars' second run.
"I was just sitting in there thinking about a line drive or a ground ball to advance the runners," McNamara said. "I didn't really get all of it. I thought it was just a fly out and then I saw the kid running back and I was like 'okay, that's kind of far.' When I came back in they were all telling me he was a step away from the fence."
In the sixth, Rebstock and McNamara both flew out to right to start the inning, but Young reached on an error before the game was halted due to thunder. When play resumed 30 minutes later, Quesenberry walked again and Ryan Potter drew a four-pitch free pass, setting up Oxyer with the bases loaded. The senior drove a 1-1 pitching to left-center field, bringing home all three runners.
"(Chesapeake) is a high-quality team with a great coaching staff. They have had tremendous success here at Chesapeake. They got the two big hits with runners in scoring position and that's the game," River Hill coach Wes McCoy said. "Four games in a week is tough. The last kid on the mound there played JV all season. That's how deep we had to go. It's part of the game, it's part of the playoffs and it's part of the reward for getting the No. 1 seed like Chesapeake did."
WP: Seidler (6-1). LP: Selby. 2B: CH - McNamara, Oxyer. RBI: CH - Oxyer 3, McNamara, Quesenberry.