What a surprise I got Saturday afternoon and wasn't there to enjoy it.

After going to Old Mill to watch the Patriots finish off Severna Park 6-2 in the resumption of their Class 4A Region IV playoff, I went to visit my brother Timmy, his wife Carol and their new baby, Timothy Michael.


Had I not done that, I would have been home to welcome the Severna Park girls' lacrosse team that paid me an unexpected visit Saturdayafternoon. The busload of Falcons pulled up in front of my house in Severna Park late in the afternoon to make sure I knew who had won the State 4A-3A Girls' Lacrosse Championship Game at Catonsville Community College.

The Severna Park girls had just won their fifth statetitle in a row, 9-5, over Chesapeake, and upon their return to Severna Park, wanted to make sure I knew about it. Now, wasn't that extremely thoughtful and considerate?


When I found out via telephone from my daughter, Kerry, who was the only one home at the time, I was touched that the girls had me on their minds. Touched that anyone had me on their minds since they started running my new Sidelines photo.

I don't think the fact that my close friend Prophet Pat had picked Chesapeake to win in his Thursday column had anything to do with their visit at all. I just think they were thinking of me and wanted me to be part of their celebration.

My daughter said she was stunned when the noisy bus of singing girls pulled up and proceeded to decorate my front lawn and bushes with blue and gold streamers and a bouquetof balloons in the same colors.

I missed out on their serenade asthey chanted Severna Park fight songs and how they had "caged those Cougars" from Chesapeake. My startled daughter, who doesn't read Prophet Pat and who, by the way, is a Severna Park

graduate, gave themthe bad news.

"I'm really sorry but my dad is not here, but maybeI can reach him," Kerry told them.

Kerry called me at my brother's and said, "Hold on, somebody wants to tell you something."

With that, she held the cordless phone and the girls sang out the results of their 9-5 state championship victory. It was an emotional moment for me on the other end.


They had truly reached out and touched someone.

Then, after making sure the balloons and streamers were anchored, their bus sped off.

Lo and behold, Sunday morning I awakenedto even more decorations. Looking out a front window, I could see that the girls had been back during the night. A few of my trees had been dressed in a roll or two of white toilet paper.

Now I'm not totally sure who put on those finishing touches, but I have a pretty good idea. Certainly, it was an impressive reminder who was state 4A-3A champs in girls' lacrosse.

If you haven't gotten my drift up to now, let me say, I've been a little sarcastic, but let me be serious now and say, congratulations to you, the Lady Falcons, and coach Carin Peterson for your state championship.

I mean it when I say I regret I was not there when you came calling Saturday because I deserved to eat crow.


It's quite obvious by your actions that one of the main reasons you repeated again as state champs is your extraordinary school and team spirit.

Your genuine spirit, enthusiasm and zest forthe thrill of accomplishment make my job a pleasure. In fact, it's not really a job and better put, "beats working" because of young ladies like you.

You rubbed it in with class and I appreciate it. But one more thing champs, you better get over here and clean up my frontyard.

Getting back to the Old Mill and Severna Park baseball result I

mentioned at the top, the stage is set for another Old Mill-Arundel 4A Region IV finale at 3:45 today at Arundel.

While second-seeded Old Mill (15-6) was eliminating Severna Park (13-6), top-seeded Arundel (17-4) got the final two outs of its rain-suspended contestwith No. 4 seed LaPlata of Charles County (11-6) to wrap up a 10-3 victory.


In Class 2A, Northeast (21-0), a 19-0 winner over FairmontHeights of Prince George's County, will seek its second-straight Region III title at home at 4 p.m. today against Frederick Douglass of Prince Georges. Douglass defeated Gwynn Park 9-4 to advance against powerhouse Northeast.

Arundel had a 10-2 lead on LaPlata with one out in the 7th inning and two LaPlata runners aboard when rain stopped play Friday afternoon in Gambrills. The two teams picked it up Saturday, with LaPlata scoring a third run on an error before succumbing 10-3.

Jeff Beard notched his 9th win (9-1) for the Wildcats, with Larry Dobson coming on to get the final two outs, setting up the showdown with Old Mill.

Old Mill held a 4-2 lead over Severna Park afterthree innings Friday before the bad weather suspended that game. Upon resumption Saturday afternoon at Old Mill, the host Pats jumped on the Falcons for two runs in the bottom of the 5th to ice it.

Catcher John Bussey's line-drive single to center that took a wicked hop away from Falcons'

center fielder Steve Neuberger scored William Beverly and Eric Scott with the final two runs.


Left hander Jimmy Simms (7-1), who started Friday, finished the game Saturday, surviving a first-and-third situation with one out in the top of the fourth. Simms fanned Wally Pisarski and got Nate Scheck to hit into an inning-ending fielder's choice.

Severna Park never threatened again as Simms finished with a six-hitter to put the Patriots in the Region IV final for the third year in a row. Old Mill is seeking its third straight region title and appearance in the state Final Four, last winningthe whole thing in 1989.

That year, Old Mill defeated Arundel in the first round of the region playoffs, and last year, on the way to a state semifinal finish, the Patriots beat Arundel in the region final. Arundel last won a state championship in 1987, under coach BernieWalter.

Walter's troops will be gunning for a three-game sweep ofcoach Mel Mongtomery's crew today. Arundel out-slugged Old Mill 11-8on April 8 and took a 7-2 decision over the Pats on May 8.

Lefthander Zach Collins, who is expected to go today against Old Mill veteran southpaw Doug Stockman, spun a six-hitter in a route-going effort in the last meeting between the two. Collins also gave up six hits inthe first game between the Cats and Pats, but that came in only one and two-third innings, as he was roughed up for 8 runs.

That's just one of a few reasons why this game is a toss-up, with Arundel holding a slight edge with the home field advantage.


Coach Montgomery has been saying his team "was not 100 percent healthy both times we played them," and now his club is ready for the big one.

It should be a classic high school baseball game, with Old Mill out to redeem itself and Arundel out to leave no doubt as to who has the better club with a third straight win over their arch-rival.

Old Mill has not lived up to early season National (USA Today Top 25) and local rankings in putting up its 15-6 record, but hopes to right itself today with a "healthy" club. Arundel hopes to put the Pats back in intensive care.

In contrast, Northeast should win in a breeze over Douglass. The powerful Eagles of coach Harry Lentz are on a course to become the winningest state public school in baseball history. Three more winsmeans a State 2A title, first for the school since 1975, and a 24-0 record, the all-time best for a single season.

Friday's rout of Fairmont Heights by 19-zip was never finished. After three innings, thegame was suspended and Fairmont coach Bob Martin saw no need to comeback Saturday and get further humiliated.

It was obviously hopeless, but unfortunately, because of the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association rules, Fairmont Heights will not be eligible for next year's tournament as a result of not finishing the seven-inning game.


That's kind of ridiculous when you think about it, because when a game is stopped for weather problems and its obvious what the result is going to be, why should a team be penalized for not wanting to drive an hour the next day to finish it?

"That is wrong. This is supposed to be for kids and I don't think they should be penalized for not finishing it," said coach Lentz. "Why should they be further humiliated?"

Really, it would have been a waste of time for both teams. There ought to be exceptions to the rules guys (MPSSAA).

In case you are wondering, Charlie Buckheit, who struck out eight ofnine batters Friday before the game was stopped, gets credit for thewin, which is a county career record -- No. 28, breaking the old mark of 27 set by Arundel's Neal Herrick from 1975-77.