In high school baseball, No. 3 starting pitchers are often overlooked.
The top two pitchers, especially the ace, typically receive more notoriety.
To make a state playoff run, though, rotation depth is vital, and Centennial’s Drew Buckmaster proved that on Monday.
Buckmaster, the Eagles’ third starter, was surgical on the mound in No. 1 Centennial’s 4-1 win over No. 8 Damascus in the MPSSAA Class 3A quarterfinals. The senior allowed only one run and two hits in his complete-game victory.
“Any coach will tell you that if you’re blessed with three good starters, you’re a very lucky coach,” said Centennial head coach Denis Ahearn. “He attacks the strike zone, he’s got more than one pitch he can throw for a strike and he’s efficient. He was so focused and mature on the mound today. It’s everything you want to see a kid mature into.”
While Buckmaster is the No. 3 on the county-champion Eagles, he’d be a top-two arm for most high school teams, and he showed that against the Hornets. The righty struck out five and walked four, consistently keeping Damascus’ hitters off-balance and getting stronger as the game progressed.
“I felt a little bit of pressure to start the game. I was struggling a little bit with my grip, but all I could do was keep throwing and trust my defense,” Buckmaster said. “The energy of the team really helped. We were hyping each other up all game, and that energy just keeps growing and growing as the game goes on.”
Buckmaster worked down in the zone all game. Only three batted balls left the infield — the two hits and a fly out to center field — and thirteen of his 21 outs were on ground balls, including a double play.
“He goes up there and throws strikes,” said Centennial third baseman and leadoff hitter Jack Pistner. “We know we have one of the best defenses in the state. We want to give him that trust to throw strikes and that we’ve got his back. If he puts the ball on the ground, like he did that last play of the game, we’re going to get that double play.”
With the win, Centennial (13-1) advances to the state semifinals. The Eagles will host No. 4 Chopticon, which beat Towson 12-10 on Monday.
The first batter of the game on the hot afternoon at Centennial High reached on an error. After that, the Eagles’ defense was flawless. The sure-handedness of Centennial’s defense has been a constant this season, especially during the Eagles’ stretch of five straight shutouts during the regular season and the recent playoff run.
“When you see your fielders making plays like my guys do, you can’t not be confident,” Buckmaster said.
Catcher Qwynn Ahearn back picked the runner on first, though, and Buckmaster got the next two batters out for a scoreless first inning.
The Eagles offense then did what’s become a common occurrence — score in the first inning. Senior Jack Pistner, who went 3 for 4 with a stolen base and an RBI triple, led off with a single and scored on a double from No. 2-hitter Chris Betler.
“He’s an absolute sparkplug of a player,” Denis Ahearn said. “He’s got a great approach and a great swing. He loves to play the game hard, and it shows in his at-bats.”
“He’s awesome,” Pistner said of Betler. “He’s always hit right behind me, but it’s not just us two. We’ve got an awesome one through five. We call ourselves death row.”
Damascus (4-9), which played in a difficult division in Montgomery County and won the 3A West Region II title, tied the game in the third. Mason Eberle’s well-executed suicide squeeze scored Chase Manion, who reached base with a one-out single.
Despite taking the loss, Hornets junior lefty Jake Garrett was solid on the mound against a Centennial team that scored nearly six runs a game entering the contest. Garrett, who on Saturday relieved Darin Kuskie for a combined no-hitter in the region final, struck out five and allowed five hits in four innings on Monday.
“That pitcher today was dealing. He had his stuff,” Pistner said of Garrett. “But the fact that each batter went six or seven pitches, it got him high in his pitch count, so we were able to get to him and get him out of the game.”
The state quarterfinal appearance is the second in the last five years for a Damascus program that previously went 14 straight years without one. Hornets co-head coach Greg Blake said he’s proud of how his three seniors led the team this year.
“Jackson Thomas, Mason Eberle and Maverick Durant … they were great, especially with everything going on with the pandemic,” Blake said. “Those are three guys who were a huge part of our program, and they really led the rest of the team this year.”
The Hornets got a runner on in each inning, leaving five on base in total.
“You have to give credit to them,” Blake said. “Their guy threw a great game. We got guys on and did what we wanted to do, but we couldn’t come up with that great hit.”
The Eagles didn’t take long to respond. Dylan Watson crushed a double that one-hopped the left center field fence and scored Qwynn Ahearn, who reached base on a one-out single. Centennial pushed two more across the plate in the fourth on a triple from Pistner that scored Buckmaster and an error that brought Pistner home.
Buckmaster’s best inning came in the fifth — his only three-up, three-down frame — as he struck out two and got a weak ground out.
After he stranded a runner on second in the sixth, Buckmaster ended the game with a 6-4-3 double play for the Eagles’ 11th straight win.
Centennial’s home game against Chopticon on Wednesday is scheduled for 4 p.m.
No. 1 Centennial 4, No. 8 Damascus 1 (3A quarterfinals)
D — 001 000 0 — 1 2 2
C — 101 200 x — 4 6 1
W: C — Drew Buckmaster. L: D — Jake Garrett.
2B: C — Chris Betler, Dylan Watson.
3B: C — Jack Pistner.
SB: C — Pistner, Betler.
OTHER BASEBALL SCORES:
No. 6 Atholton 3, No. 3 Stephen Decatur 2 (3A quarterfinals)
A two-RBI double from Diego Carrion and solid pitching from two different right-handers propelled the Raiders to the close victory. Senior Branden Brown tossed five innings and allowed only two runs to earn the victory, and sophomore Kurtis MacKenzie tossed two scoreless innings of relief for the save.
Stephen Decatur scored first to take a 1-0 lead through three innings, but a two-run double from Carrion and an RBI single from Tony D’Angeli was all Brown and MacKenzie needed.
“That’s a talented team out there, and we made a statement that we weren’t going to back down,” said Atholton coach Scott Peddicord on the phone after the game. “The boys really pulled together. The pitching has carried us all year, and we had enough hits to come through with the win.”
The Raiders (11-3) advance to the Class 3A semifinals with the win.
On Wednesday, the sixth-seeded Raiders will host No. 7 Linganore, which defeated No. 2 Kenwood 15-7 on Monday, for a chance to play in the state championship. First pitch of the semifinal game in Columbia will be at 4 p.m.
No. 6 Glenelg 18, No. 3 La Plata 4 (2A quarterfinals)
Colin Buch scored eight goals in the Gladiators’ dominant road victory.
Buch, who also had an assist, scored four straight goals at one point in the first half.
“He was the guy tonight,” said Glenelg head coach Josh Hatmaker on the phone after the game. “Wednesday night it might be [Evan] Whatley or Kevin [Doughty] or someone else. He scored four goals in a row at one point, and they were all from different release points from four different spots.”
Whatley, who scored seven goals in the Gladiators’ region championship win last week, added two goals, and so did Kevin Klingensmith. Doughty chipped in with a goal and four assists.
Glenelg (9-1) advances to the Class 2A semifinals with the victory.
On Wednesday, the sixth-seeded Gladiators will host No. 7 Hereford, which defeated No. 2 City 17-2 on Monday, for a chance to play in the state championship at 6 p.m.
Goals: G — Colin Buch 8, Evan Whatley 2, Kevin Klingensmith 2, Kevin Doughty, Michael Gloth, Adrien Garcia, Tim Iannarino, Chris Iannarino, Connor Hammond.
Assists: G — Doughty 4, Buch, Whatley, Wyatt Haney, Rocco Buscher, Jon Nagle, C. Iannarino.
Saves: G — Charlie Wendel 2, Stephen DeSantis 2, Blake Hunter 1, Brian Blackburn 4.
Halftime: 13-1, G.
No. 6 Marriotts Ridge 7, No. 3 Huntingtown 6 (3A quarterfinals)
The Mustangs led 7-4 in the fourth quarter, but the Hurricanes stormed back for two goals to make it a one-score game. Huntingtown had a chance to tied the game with only a few seconds remaining, but a save from Marriotts Ridge goalie Tyler Gladstone clinched the road win for the Mustangs.
“This was a goal we had set way back,” said Marriotts Ridge coach Thomas Minard on the phone after the game. “We’ve had a tough schedule, and we had a tough draw in the playoffs. At this point, we’re battled test. We’ve played three very tough games.”
Topher Kennedy and Jake Levey both scored two goals to lead the Mustangs’ offense, while John Miller, Jack Slack and Avery Gloyd each chipped in with a goal. Miller also had two assists, while Mac Clevenger added a helper as well.
Marriotts Ridge (9-1) advances to the Class 3A semifinals with the triumph. On Wednesday, the sixth-seeded Mustangs will travel to No. 2 Urbana, which defeated No. 2 J.M. Bennett 16-4 on Monday, for a chance to play in the state championship. The time of the game at the Frederick County school is to be determined.
Goals: MR — Topher Kennedy 2, Jake Levey 2, John Miller, Jack Slack, Avery Gloyd.
Assists: MR — Miller 2, Clevenger.
Saves: MR — Thomas Coakley 3, Tyler Gladstone 10.
Halftime: 4-4, MR.
No. 1 C. Milton Wright 17, No. 8 River Hill 9 (3A quarterfinals)
The Mustangs advance to the Class 3A semifinals with the win over the Hawks (3-7).
No. 4 Marriotts Ridge 23, No. 5 Rockville 1 (3A quarterfinals)
No. 1 Huntingtown 12, No. 8 River Hill 7 (3A quarterfinals)
The Hurricanes advance to the Class 3A semifinals with the win over the Hawks (3-5).
TRACK & FIELD:
4A East Regional
Both the Howard boys and girls track and field teams won region championships on Monday. The Lions competed in the 4A East Region championships at North County High School on Monday, with both squads coming out on top.
4A East Regional
The Lions put the finishing touches on the program’s first regional team title, scoring 32 points to top second-place Severna Park (20) at Annapolis High School.
Andrew Au earned an individual region title at boys singles, while the mixed doubles team of Corinne Chau and Alex Brousseau also secured a region championship. All three will advance to the state semifinals on Friday at Wilde Lake.
FINAL: Andrew Au, Ho def. Gustav Kemp, BN (7-5, 6-1)
SECTION FINAL: Andrew Au, Ho def. Brendon She, OM (6-3, 6-0)
FINAL: Charlie Herman and Lucas Fuhrman, SP def. Niko Bifsas and Savsas Bifsas, Ho (6-2, 6-1)
SECTION FINAL: Niko Bifsas and Savsas Bifsas, Ho def. Yash Gulati and Garrett DiBenio, OM (6-2, 6-1)
FINAL: Vanessa Mellynchuk and Alison Bach, SR def. Presley Caroland and Marina Kim, Ho (6-0, 6-0)
SECTION FINAL: Presely Caroland and Marina Kim, Ho def. Phoebe Budd and Saffron Hayes, Ar (6-1, 6-1).
FINAL: Corinne Chau and Alex Brousseau, Ho def. Sydney Mudd and John Melles, SP (6-3, 6-1)
SECTION FINAL: Corinne Chau and Alex Brousseau, Ho def. Ava Yost and Tyler Hester, Ar (6-0, 6-2)
3A East Regional
FINAL: Alex Artazov, RH def. Guy Scafidi, MH (6-0, 6-0)
SECTION FINAL: Alex Artazov, RH def. Jason Lilly, A (6-1, 6-0); Guy Scafidi, MH def. Vijay Jagarapu, C (6-4, 2-6, 1-0 (7)).
FINAL: Trinetra Vijayakumar, MH def. Adelaide Houston, RH (6-0, 6-0)
SECTION FINAL: Trinetra Vijayakumar, MH def. Hashini Amarasinghe, MR (6-0, 6-0); Adelaide Houston, RH def. Alanna Ro, Re (6-2, 6-1).
FINAL: Joshua Cai and Yari Armand, Re def. Danny Ho and Ryan Huang, C (4-6, 7-6 (3), 1-0 (9)).
SECTION FINAL: Joshua Cai and Yari Armand, Re def. Jai Khanna and Sebastian Lair, RH (6-4, 4-6, 1-0 (7)); Danny Ho and Ryan Huang, C def. Sai Charan Chodaverapu and Shreyas Rath, MR (6-4, 6-3)
FINAL: Rose Huang and Michelle Fradlin, C def. Siri Jale and Priyanka Ramulu, RH (6-3, 6-1)
SECTION FINAL: Rose Huang and Michelle Fradlin, C def. Anna Ottman and Charita Sandoze, MR (6-0, 6-3); Siri Jale and Priyanka Ramulu, RH def. Grace Tao and Gia Santos, Re (6-1, 6-1)
FINAL: Audrey Oaksmith and Keshav Ganapathy, C def. Niki Patel and Alex Nguyen, A (6-4, 6-3)
SECTION FINAL: Audrey Oaksmith and Keshav Ganapathy, C def. Gabby Tseytlin and Ethan Bernstein, MR (6-3, 2-6, 1-0 (10)); Niki Patel and Alex Nguyen, A def. Karen Yhim and Jared Carino, Re (6-1, 6-2)