In the top of the seventh inning at No. 6 Oakland Mills on Wednesday afternoon, Marriotts Ridge took a 3-2 lead on an RBI ground ball by leadoff man Jake Bender that sent home 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 Class 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 groundout.
Zayatz pitched the complete game for Oakland Mills, allowing only one run through the first five innings, and hit two solo home runs and a double off 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 a while, 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."
Marriotts Ridge will face the winner of Lackey and Patuxent in the 2A South regional championship on Friday.
Catonsville 13, Poly 2: The top-seeded and host Comets (15-4) got a solid pitching performance from Chris Jay and the bats provided all the runs he needed in the first two innings as Catonsville advanced to the Class 4A North final.
Jay pitched four shutout innings and allowed just two hits while striking out seven.
"He's our No. 3 but he's just as good as a lot of teams' No. 1." Catonsville coach Rich Hambor said. "He's a cool guy out there, and nothing really rattles him."
Rob Wheelton (2-for-2) led off the bottom of the first with a home run, and the Comets tacked on five runs in the second and seven in the third. Kevin Sheppard, Brendan McTaggart and Scott Beautz each had two hits, and every Comets starter had either a hit or an RBI. Catonsville will host Westminster on Friday in the regional final.
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No. 9 Reservoir 6, J.M. Bennett 5: Right-hander Cody Morris (7-2) worked a complete game, giving up five runs on seven hits, walking one and striking out seven for the win as the Gators (15-6) advanced to Friday's Class 3A East regional championship.
No. 12 Eastern Tech 12, Franklin 2: Winning pitcher Matt Evans pitched five innings, gave up six hits and two runs, and struck out three for the host Mavericks (15-4) in a Class 3A North regional semifinal.
Boys' Latin 5, St. Vincent Pallotti 2: Fred Bopst pitched a three-hitter as the Lakers (12-11) eliminated the Panthers (17-8) in a Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association B Conference Tournament game.
No. 1 Eastern Tech 2, Bel Air 0: Jordan Cargile tossed a two-hitter and struck out 11 for the host Mavericks (19-0) in a Class 3A North regional semifinal.
Offensively, Cargile had a double and a run scored.
No. 8 Glen Burnie 1, Leonardtown 0: Ali Moos pitched a no-hitter, walking one and striking out five for the host Gophers (14-6) in a Class 4A East regional semifinal.
Glen Burnie scored the winning run in the bottom of the sixth inning, and Caitlyn Kirby (3-for-3) had the only extra-base hit of the game, a double.
No. 9 Mount Hebron 2, No. 11 Howard 1: After falling behind 1-0 in the top of the sixth of the 3A East regional semifinals, the Vikings came out in the bottom half of the inning and scored two times to provide enough offense to outlast the Lions.
Freshman Evvie Buehlman pitched a three-hitter and struck out nine batters, including one in the seventh inning with a runner on third, to pick up the win for Mount Hebron. Buehlman also delivered one of her team's three hits. The other two — a single by Maddie Bennett and an RBI single by Alli Bluhm — came during the pivotal sixth inning.
Howard pitcher Kayli Paugh pitched a gem of her own to keep her team in it.
Paugh tripled in the top of the seventh to put the tying run on third with no outs. But Buehlman buckled down by striking out the next batter and then getting a pop-out bunt to the pitcher and a grounder to second baseman Rachel Cadigan to seal the win.
Mount Hebron will play at River Hill, a 5-4 winner over Reservoir in the other regional semifinal, on Saturday at 2 p.m.
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Gilman 121/2, Archbishop Spalding 81/2: John Emmett and Kevin Devine led the Greyhounds (7-2) past the Cavaliers in a Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference semifinal.
Gilman, which last won the conference title in 2008, faces the winner of Mount St.Joseph-Calvert Hall in Saturday's championship at Caves Valley.
Baltimore Sun staff contributed to this article.