With Michael Taylor and Corbin Warner regularly taking the mound this season, the Arundel baseball team has become accustomed to seeing quality pitching.
During Saturday’s 4A East Region I final, the Wildcats were treated to another stunning performance. This time, however, it was by Howard’s Nathan Dawes, whose near-complete game helped lead the visiting Lions to a 5-2 victory.
It’s the third region title since 2017 for Howard (9-5), which won the state title in 2018.
Dawes struck out nine and scattered four hits in 6 ⅔ innings of work. Having reached his pitch count following a strikeout looking of Chris Ricks, Dawes was lifted in favor of Benjamin Fader, who started the inning with a diving catch in center field then struck out John Greenawalt to end the game.
“Obviously, I wanted to face the last batter ... but Ben Fader came in and shut the door,” said Dawes, whose 9-5 squad will play on the road in a 4A state quarterfinal Monday. “We best the No. 1 seed [North Country] and we just beat the No. 2 seed, but it’s not over yet.”
The Wildcats, who were seeking their first region title since 2006, finished the season at 10-5 that included Wednesday’s thrilling 10-inning victory against Old Mill.
“Their guy did a phenomenal job and he executed when it mattered the most and they made some outstanding plays,” said Arundel coach Frank Hood, whose squad returns five quality pitchers and it’s entire starting outfield next year. “They made the most of their opportunities [and] I think nerves hurt us at the beginning.”
Leading off in the face of a boisterous crowd, the Lions opened up a 1-0 lead in the first inning on a wild pitch from starting pitcher Gary Gubbings III. Fader reached first on a fielder’s choice and eventually got to third on a pair of errors before scoring.
That lead grew to 5-0 in the pivotal third inning on a bases-loaded sacrifice fly off the bat of Jack Kearney, following a trio of walks then a two-run double by Dawes to left field to chase Gubbings from the game. Dawes later scored on a wild pitch.
“This is a huge win to beat an extremely talented coaching staff and talented team in Arundel; I couldn’t be prouder of my guys,” said first-year Lions coach Jason Grebe. “We had a lot of restrictions at the beginning of the season. We couldn’t practice on Saturdays. It took a while for us to get into a groove.”
Greenawalt trimmed the Arundel deficit to 5-1 in the bottom of the third on a ground out to second that scored Ricks, who walked, stole second, and reached third on a wild pitch.
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Greenawalt drove in Arundel’s final run in the fifth on a single to right field to account for the final 5-3 score. Noah DeLuca tripled to right center field to start the inning.