Two teams that came into the Class 4A North Region championship game with a combined record of 41-2 couldn’t determine a winner until extra innings.
But the dust finally settled in the bottom of the eighth inning when Sherwood’s leadoff hitter Luke Cheng led off with a double, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on a sacrifice fly by Joey Bowers to give the host Warriors (21-1) a 1-0 win over Dulaney (21-2).
Dulaney starting pitcher Wilson Farlow tossed 4 2/3 scoreless innings, allowed only one hit and he had fanned Cheng in his first two at bats.
“You’ve just got to flush it (first two at bats), rinse and repeat, just got to go out there, that’s what you live for and that’s what you get, four chances,” said Cheng, who had two hits of reliever Cole McGee. “Honestly, I was just trying to drive it, I hit his fastball earlier in the game, so I was sitting fastball I saw the curve and I was able to get good wood on it.”
Sherwood coach Sean Davis was confident in his junior sparkplug.
“He’s had a great year and he’s one of our best hitters and he is a resilient kid and when you talk about mental toughness, you can’t strike out twice and go in the tank, because you are going to come up in a big situation and he is mentally tough kid and he came up an he got the job done for us,” Davis said.
The coach was also optimistic when Joey Bowers was up with no outs and the winning run on third.
“He’s the two-hitter, he handles the bat well, he runs well and he gives us a lot of options,” Davis said.
The run made a winner out of relief pitcher Trevor McCormick.
McCormick threw one pitch and retired Dulaney’s dangerous number two hitter Bryce Frederick.
Frederick, who became Dulaney’s all-time hits leader earlier this season and who will play at Radford University next season, popped out to first baseman Michel Bouma.
Although he didn’t get the win, Sherwood starting pitcher Ben Vok left without allowing a run in 7 2/3 innings, while yielding just three hits and striking out eight.
Dulaney’s Connor Stewart, Todd Mozoki and Jack Felt got the only hits for the Lions, but they could have had a few home runs if the venue was Dulaney High’s field.
“Two of those balls are out at our field,” Dulaney coach Ryan Wolfsheimer said. “We lost a coin toss. That’s how we ended up here, we lost a coin toss and we lost a couple of runs.”
The balls that were caught by left fielder Ian Brady, within 10 feet of the home run fence, were hit by Mozoki, in the fourth, and McGee, in the fifth.
Finn Drew also had a deep drive to right with two on in the top of the first that was caught by Jack Braun.
“That is the best offensive team we’ve faced all season,” Davis said. “Some of their outs were hit a very long way.”
But starting pitcher Ben Vok never blinked after the long drives.
“Ben is a bulldog and wants to compete and he did and he put his team in a position to win,” Davis said.
The loss was the second straight playoff loss in eight innings for the Lions, who fell to Howard, 2-1, in the regional semis last year.
The Lions eliminated Howard, 6-2, this year in the regional semis and were trying to make the state tournament for the first time since 2001.
Mozoki was the winning pitcher and he also went 3-for-4 with a home run at the plate against Howard.
Mozoki was the winning pitcher and he also went 3-for-4 with a home run at the plate.
Against Sherwood, Mozoki was up with a runner on second in the top of the third and, after he slashed a hard line drive just foul down the left field line, he never got to hit because the runner was picked off by Vok.
He was in the on-deck circle when the top of the eighth ended and watched from first base when Cheng scored the winning run.
“There is no greater feeling, but we are not done yet, we’ve got to keep going,” Cheng said.