C. Milton Wright scored three runs in the first inning against Northern Calvert in the 3A state semifinals Tuesday, and that’s all starting pitcher Hunter Wright needed.
Zach Stiars hit a three-run double in his team’s first at bat, and Wright stymied Northern’s bats in a 4-2 victory that secures the Mustangs a spot in the 3A title game.
“I knew it was going to be a battle,” Wright said. “After those three runs in the beginning, [I knew] that we were probably going to win.”
Wright allowed six hits and zero runs in his 6 1/3 innings. He struck out eight and walked only one.
“He mixes it up well,” said CMW head coach Mike Amaral. “He’s so poised on the mound. You never know what his emotions are.”
C. Milton Wright (13-9) will play J.M. Bennett in the 3A state final on Saturday at 7 p.m. at Ripken Stadium.
“We just need to win it,” Stiars said. “The last one we had was 2010. We need to do it this year.”
The three runs the Mustangs scored to start the semifinal game at Joe Cannon Stadium were all unearned to Northern (15-6) pitcher Marcus Lee Sang, a St. John’s commit as an outfielder.
Before Stiars’ double, Nick Kopczynski was hit by a pitch, Jake Spurlock hit a seeing-eye single and Wright reached base on a fielding error to load the bases.
“We told him to sit on fastball, because he brings it,” said Amaral. “We told them to hit fastballs, and he got it done.”
C. Milton Wright scored again in the third on a Dominic Jankovich single to plate Spurlock, who reached base via a hit by pitch.
Lee Sang didn’t allow a run the rest of the game. He allowed five hits and four runs (one earned) in his seven innings. He struck out three and walked one.
“Having a guy like that is great for our program,” said Northern head coach Bobby Gibbons. “You guys haven’t heard the last of Marcus as a baseball player.”
Wright cruised through the first five innings before being pulled for reliever Joe Burns. Amaral pulled him to keep Wright under the pitch count that would disqualify him from throwing in Saturday’s state championship.
Burns recorded two outs in the sixth before allowing three straight hits and two runs.
Northern’s Nick Cook hit a triple down the right-field line to score Nick White, and Bryce Leslie singled home Cook to put the Patriots down 4-2.
Amaral then put Wright, who went to play the field after he was pulled, back on the mound. After allowing a single to the first batter he faced in the sixth, Wright retired the next four batters in order — three by strikeout — to send the Mustangs to the state final.
Latest Howard County Sports
“It was a pitch-count thing. We took a gamble to see if he could pitch the next game,” said Amaral. “We felt confident, but it didn’t work out. We knew we had that safety valve, because Hunter is just a gamer. We knew he was the type of kid we could bring back in and close it down.”