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The Aegis
Harford County

North Harford baseball loses to Reservoir, 2-0, in 3A state final

Making their second 3A state baseball title game appearance in the last three years on Saturday night, the North Harford Hawks managed just two hits against Reservoir in a 2-0 loss.

Before the game, North Harford Skipper Tim Larrimore said this year's Hawks were the best-hitting team he had coached during his 24 seasons as the program's head coach.

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The Hawks, however, came up against Reservoir hurler Cody Morris, who allowed four North Harford batters to reach base the entire game. North Harford's Luke Johnson led off the top of the first with a single, and Richie Greene followed with a walk, putting a runner in scoring position with no outs. Morris responded by fanning the next three hitters.

"I thought at some point we were going to figure their pitcher out," Larrimore said. "With our lineup, I thought that eventually we'd get to him, or that he might run into some control problems as the game wore on, but he just didn't give us anything. He had a really tough fastball with a lot of movement. When Luke led off with that single, I thought, 'we're in good shape,' but it didn't work out that way."

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After a three-up, three-down inning in the second, the Hawks had Brandon Plummer lead off the third with a walk, but he was the last North Harford hitter to reach base until the sixth as the next 11 Hawks were retired in order.

North Harford pitcher Brian Shaffer ran into some trouble in the first when a one-out walk and an error put runners on the corners. Shaffer escaped the jam by getting an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play.

In Reservoir's next turn at the plate, Shaffer surrendered what would be the game-winning run on a walk, a sacrifice bunt and an RBI single to right.

"Brian was great out there tonight," Larrimore said of his starter, who tossed a complete game. "He only allowed four hits, and they were scattered. It was the errors that hurt us the most tonight."

In the fourth, Shaffer allowed a leadoff single, then retired the next hitter with an athletic play on a dribbler between first base and the mound. The next batter hit what looked to be a routine grounder to Braden Stinar at second base, but Stinar's throw sailed over first baseman Josh Garcia's outstretched glove, allowing the Reservoir runner to score from second.

"I think there we might have been a little nervous tonight," Larrimore said. "I figured at this point they would have worked all of that out of their systems, but they were probably a little tight out there."

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After escaping the fourth without any further damage, Shaffer held Reservoir to a leadoff single in the fifth and a one-out base hit in the sixth.

The two teams had a combined six total hits.

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Nic Hammer ended North Harford's string of 11 straight outs in the top of the sixth with a two-out single to left, which brought Shaffer to the plate representing the tying run. Shaffer, who wailed a two-run homer on Wednesday in the Hawks 8-2 semifinal win over LaPlata, hit a liner to right directly at the Reservoir outfielder for the third out.

"We hit the ball hard a few times," Larrimore said. "But, it was right at them."

The Hawks went down in order in the seventh, and Reservoir walked off the field as the 2014 3A champs.

North Harford made it to the 3A title game two years ago, but fell short of its first baseball championship that time with a 4-2 loss to J.M. Bennett.

"It was good to make it back here for the final," Larrimore said. "I thanked the team when the game was over, for getting us back to Ripken Stadium. We had a fantastic season. We won a Chesapeake Division title, we won a conference title and we went 22-2 heading into this game. And, we made it to the state championship game again. That's a pretty good run."


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