ELLICOTT CITY, MD — Reservoir baseball coach Adam Leader waited 12 years for his ice-water shower. After an 8-2 win at Mt. Hebron Saturday in the 3A East regional championship game, several Reservoir players dumped the ceremonial cooler of water on their coach to celebrate the team's first trip to the state semifinals.
"I'll take it, and if I can take it a couple more times, that would be nice," said Leader, whose team will play Thomas Johnson in the state semifinals Tuesday at Joe Cannon Stadium in Hanover. "It's in our area, our people are going to be here for us, and it's time to take care of business."
In each of the past two seasons, Reservoir has traveled to the Eastern Shore — at Stephen Decatur in 2013 and at J.M. Bennett in 2012 — and lost in the regional finals.
"It's a special group and it's been special the whole year. They've worked so hard and I'm so glad that we've finally won this region and getting that monkey off our back ... they were locked in today on the bus."
Reservoir senior catcher and leadoff man Danny O'Hagan singled twice, was hit by a pitch, stole three bases and scored three runs in the win.
"It's nice to finally get past it. We made sure this year we didn't have a letdown. It feels good to finally keep playing past this week," O'Hagan said. "I don't want this to end. I'm glad it's not over yet. I've got two more high school games hopefully left to play and I'm going to make the most of it."
Jack Barry started the game for Reservoir and pitched three innings, allowing two runs on two hits — a Paul Lutchenkov RBI triple in the third followed by a Matt Ansaldi RBI single. Jon Mierzwa pitched four scoreless innings in relief.
The Gators could use junior ace Cody Morris — the two-time Howard County Pitcher of the Year and a University of South Carolina recruit — in the state semifinal on Tuesday and, should they win, the state championship on Saturday.
"I thought we had the momentum coming into today. (Morris) really fired me up to come out, throw strikes, hit my spots, and I did that and then Jon came in and shut the door really well," said Barry, who also hit an RBI single in Reservoir's three-run fourth. "It's been a special season ... we've just been talking about getting to this point and what we needed to do to get here."
Mt. Hebron ace Mark Smith kept his team in the game until the sixth inning, when the Vikings made two outfield errors and Reservoir shortstop Joe Kearney delivered a back-breaking two-out, two-run single.
"Reservoir just played better than we did today. We didn't play our best, and that's a little bit on the frustrating side," Mt. Hebron coach Brian Culley said. "Defensively, we did some things that we hadn't done all year long. We threw the ball around ... but I hope they go and win the whole entire thing."
Mt. Hebron first baseman Jordan bellido de Luna reached base twice — on a walk and a hit-by-pitch — and saved two runs in the sixth with a pick off the dirt on a throw to first.
"Reservoir is a really good team, but we played them tough," he said. "The sixth and seventh innings really started to get away from us but before that we were right there with them."
001 302 2 - 8 8 1
002 000 0 - 2 6 4
Barry, Mierzwa (4) and O'Hagan. Smith, Lettieri (7) and Lutchenkov.
Re — Quattrone.
Latest Howard County
Re — Mierzwa. MH — Lutchenkov.