Severna Park junior Ryan Callahan had his pitches moving.
His splitter dipped away from hitters. His fastball had movement as it approached the plate.
And that's what it took to throw No. 12 South River's hitters off their game and earn No. 4 Severna Park it's fourth straight win to start the season. The Falcons' 4-1 home victory Wednesday dropped their Anne Arundel County rivals to 1-2.
"When we got those four runs [in the second inning] it took the pressure off," said Callahan, who surrendered three hits in five innings to improve to 2-0. "I knew we'd shut 'em down then. The new bats don't have a lot of pop, and I just kept the ball low. If you do that, it won't fly out [for a home run]."
Only one of his pitches got up into that dangerous zone, allowing Joe Scott to drive in South River's lone run on a fifth-inning homer.
Callahan was facing one of the county's better pitchers in Scott Mitchell. But the Seahawks' senior made a couple mistakes in the second inning after a team fielding error put runners in scoring position, and the combination was enough to give Callahan his cushion.
"Our kid didn't pitch a bad game," South River coach Ken Dunn said. "It's a shame he hasn't caught a break. Three of those runs were unearned. He's a solid kid, pre-season all-state. But we haven't been hitting — and if we don't start swinging the bats, we're in trouble."
Jake Siefert led off the bottom of the second inning with a walk, and James Carran reached on an error that sent Siefert to second. When first baseman Rhyan Karr sacrificed, Siefert scored for a 1-0 lead. Reid Kowalski doubled, and Danny Fulton and Daniel Fielder both singled to bring home three more runs.
"I want the first run. I don't care how we get it," Severna Park coach Bob Felts said. "I just somehow want us on the board first. We've done more bunting in two games than [former coach] Jim McCandless and I did in six years."
Felts, who had been an assistant coach at Severna Park, took the head coaching job this season, after McCandless' death in January. He said he's implemented more of a small-ball style in this the first season new bats with less pop are being used.
Felts said he wished the game would simply return to wood bats, but Dunn said the bats are not his team's problem.
"It's our mental approach," Dunn said. "It's our technique. It's our pitch selection. It's the little nuances of baseball."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun