BALTIMORE, MD — Although the high school baseball season officially ended with Mt. Hebron's 1-0 loss to Chopticon in the state baseball championship last weekend, Sunday was a banner day for Howard County baseball.
Four local seniors — Reservoir third baseman Jack Barry, Wilde Lake outfielder Cuinn Mullins, Mt. Hebron pitcher Mark Smith and Glenelg catcher Garrett Southern — not only represented Howard County in the Brooks Robinson High School All Star Game at Oriole Park, they did so with a flourish against the best high school competition Maryland has to offer.
Barry (1-for-2, 2 walks), Mullins (2-for-3, triple, RBI), Southern (2-for-3, 2 RBIs) and Smith (1 IP, 2 H, 1 BB, 1 K, 0 R) led the South team to an 8-1 victory over the North, going a combined 5-for-8 from the plate against a rotation of pitchers who will play for college teams next spring.
"They said this was the largest turnout of any year for Howard County, and we all did well," said Mullins, who also made an outstanding over-the-shoulder catch on a fly ball to deep left field in the seventh. "It was great. It was a lot of fun and a good experience."
Smith, the Howard County Pitcher of the Year, had to wait all the way until the sixth inning before he got his chance to get in the game. The Vikings ace struck out the first batter he faced, Mount St. Joseph's Clark Clatchey, on a 1-2 curveball that caught the edge of the plate.
"It was pretty surreal pitching in a Major League park. Throwing off the mound it actually felt and looked shorter, I felt like I had pop on my pitches," said Smith, who will pitch for Towson University next year. "My curves were both working ... Pitching the strikeout was a pretty cool moment, especially because I'm going to go play baseball with Clark Clatchey at Towson next year."
Chopticon's Ljay Newsome, the pitcher that Smith opposed in a 1-0 loss in the state finals, earned Most Valuable Pitcher honors and earned the victory for the South team, striking out two and allowing one hit in two innings.
"We talked and warmed up together. He's a great guy and I've got a lot of respect for him. It was definitely nice getting to know him a little," said Smith, who allowed two hits to Newsome's one in the state championship. "Losing (that game) was a huge disappointment ... but now we get to look back and reflect on the season and celebrate our awards."
For Barry, playing in the game was a thrill, and also provided an opportunity to share a dugout one last time with teammate Cody Morris, who underwent successful Tommy John surgery with Dr. James Andrews last week.
"We've played in some nice ballparks, but Camden Yards is in a different class. It's an MLB stadium with all the seats around and the lights coming on. It's a different atmosphere," said Barry, who started the game at shortstop and made an athletic play to catch a runner stealing in the first inning.
Barry fouled off five pitches in the game with two strikes, leading to a pair of walks, and scored a run in the fourth.
"It's an all star game, so you want to do something big," said Barry, who will play for Salisbury next year. "It was fun to be with my guys one last time and have Cody in the dugout one last time. It was a great experience overall."
After leading Reservoir to the state championship last year as a junior, Morris — who has committed to South Carolina but is still hoping to be selected in the first several rounds of next week's Major League Baseball draft — originally hoped to pitch in the Brooks Robinson game after winning a second state title. But lingering arm tightness during the season leading up to last week's surgery unfortunately changed that script.
"Being able to be in the dugout with Jack and some of the guys I've been playing against for awhile was a good experience, especially coming off of the surgery," Morris said. "The surgery was successful and (Dr. James) Andrews was really nice. I was hanging out with Dante Fowler, the No. 3 pick for the (Jacksonville) Jaguars and Jeff Heuerman (the third round pick) for the Broncos. It was fun, it was something else."
Southern, who will play for York College next year, drove in the first run of the game in the third inning, then scored the second run on a sac fly by Mullins.
A grand slam over the left field fence by J.M. Bennett's Michael Jean-Charles in the fourth blew the game open.
Mullins almost made the blooper reel two batters later when he drove a ball into the right center field gap, but paused coming out of the batter's box and looked into the stands, initially thinking that he had hit a foul ball.
"It felt like a foul ball so I didn't run, which is bad," said Mullins, who had in fact driven the ball all the way to the warning track in center field. "I looked for it and then I found it and it was going toward the fence. I should have got an inside the park home run."