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Marriotts Ridge baseball rides solid pitching, clean defense to win over River Hill

Mustangs junior pitcher Buck Olsufka talks after a 5-2 win over the Hawks on April 20. (Kyle Stackpole / BSMG)

HOWARD COUNTY, MD — Marriotts Ridge baseball gave up 12 hits against Centennial on Thursday afternoon. It committed four errors and fell behind, 6-1, after three innings. The Mustangs found some offensive production the rest of the game, finishing with seven runs on 11 hits, but their sloppy defense and so-so pitching proved too great to overcome.

The Eagles held on for a 10-7 victory, handing the Mustangs just their second county loss in 10 games.

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With a showdown against River Hill set for less than 24 hours later, Marriotts Ridge could not afford to dwell on that performance. Doing so would leave the Mustangs susceptible to turning one poor outing into a losing streak. Instead, coach Paul Eckert preached getting back to the game's simplest of fundamentals: throwing and catching.

His team seemed to listen. En route to a 5-2 win over River Hill on Friday, Marriotts Ridge received a quality start from right-hander Buck Olsufka and a dominant relief effort from southpaw Dylan Anagnos. It made routine defensive plays, as well as a few difficult ones, while committing just one error. It built a five-run lead by the fourth inning.

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And in doing so, the Mustangs held off the Hawks to move into a four-way tie for first place in the county standings with Howard, Mt. Hebon and Reservoir.

"If we had caught the ball and thrown the ball as well yesterday as we did today, we would have won both games," Eckert said Friday. "Credit to Centennial for taking advantage of miscues that we had, and a credit to our kids for bouncing back and being ready to play today."

Marriotts Ridge (9-2 county, 10-2 overall) immediately jumped on River Hill starting pitcher Cole Gerardi with three first-inning hits, two of which failed to make it out of the outfield. The second one, a dribbler to second base off the bat of Anagnos, brought in the Mustangs' first run.

Moments later, Anagnos took off for second base in an attempt to distract the Hawks from holding the runner at third. It turned out to be a flawless plan that resulted in the visiting team doubling its advantage on the scoreboard.

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In the third inning, with the Mustangs ahead by three, Anagnos (2-for-2) brought home another run with a sacrifice fly to center field. Scoring on the play was Gavin Ross, who reached base via an RBI triple one batter earlier.

A roundup of varsity action in Howard County on Thursday, April 19.

By the time Olsufka took the mound in the fourth frame, he had a 5-0 cushion to work with.

Not that he needed it. Over five scoreless innings, Olsufka gave up one hit and fanned six Hawks. He walked three batters and hit another, but these sporadic issues did not come close to derailing another promising start for the Mustangs' first-year ace.

"He's maturing a lot," Anagnos said of his junior teammate. "I've played with him in the past a lot, and last year, he had some trouble with confidence when it came to the mound. And this year, he's really found himself."

River Hill coach Wes McCoy said Olsufka's velocity, variety of pitches and ability to change his arm angles bothered his hitters. While taking five walks, the Hawks (6-5, 7-5) managed just two hits.

However, that patience allowed the home squad to break through against Marriotts Ridge relief pitcher Ryan Lee. After inducing a groundout, Lee hit the next batter and walked the two after that. With the bases loaded, Lucas Gitelman sent a two-run double into the right-center field gap.

Plus, with runners on second and third and one out, the Hawks were in position to further close the gap.

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Sensing a momentum shift, the Mustangs took out Lee in favor for Anagnos. Before the year, it did not look as though Anagnos, a first-team All-County pitcher last season, would take the mound for his senior campaign. He injured his ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) and is set to undergo surgery later this spring. For much of the season, his most valuable contributions have come at the plate, where he's been one of Marriotts Ridge's top hitters.

But Anagnos said his surgeon recently cleared him to pitch, and he made his first appearance during the Mustangs' win over Long Reach a week ago.

Similar to that game, Anagnos, a preseason all-state hurler, did not allow a hit. He escaped the sixth-inning jam with a strikeout and a groundout to shortstop. He then added two strikeouts in the final frame to clinch the Mustangs' bounce-back victory.

"First big game for him, and he just dominated, shredded them up," Olsufka said of Anagnos. "Big win for Marriotts Ridge here."

Marriotts Ridge (9-2 county, 10-2 overall) — 5, River Hill (6-5, 7-5) — 2

……….123 456 7 R-H-E

MR …. 212 000 0 5-8-1

RH …. 000 002 0 2-2-1

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