It's been a wacky high school baseball season, but Severna Park got just plain whacked yesterday.
Chesapeake handed the Falcons a mind-blowing 13-7 loss to avenge an earlier 10-5 setback.
To break a 7-7 tie, the Cougars had seven hits, including three of their four triples on the day, and two home runs in a six-run fifth inning.
Their 14 hits in the game came against three different pitchers, including the Falcons' No. 2 hurler, John Ritter (6-2).
The Falcons were rocked most by senior center fielder Mike O'Brien, who went 3-for-5 with eight RBI, and lacked only a double to hit for the cycle. Third baseman Darrell Keith (4-for-4, one RBI) hit with power that belied his 5-foot-8, 130-pound stature.
At game's end, it was difficult to fathom that the 9-9 Cougars (9-7 in games that count toward the playoffs) still are fighting for the fourth Region IV playoff spot with games remaining against Glen Burnie and Old Mill.
Or that the 15-2 Falcons, who lost for the second straight time, had been the area's top-ranked team and were ranked No. 9 nationally by USA Today this week.
And to think, the Cougars trailed, 5-0, after the first inning.
"Basically, we just got tired of having the reputation of being a team that couldn't fight back when we got down," said O'Brien. "We had a long talk before this game and just decided that if we didn't make the playoffs, we'd go down fighting."
O'Brien's final numbers turned him from goat to hero, after he misread Steve Neuberger's inside-the-park three-run homer that gave the Falcons a 3-0 first-inning lead.
It was 4-0 after the Falcons' John Milisitz doubled, went to third when Brad Tippin's grounder slipped under the glove of second baseman Jason Siemer, and scored on a passed ball. And it was 5-0 after Tippin crossed the plate on Roy Dietrich's sacrifice fly.
O'Brien's second-inning, bases-loaded triple brought the Cougars to within, 5-3, and he scored on a Siemer single.
Severna Park increased its lead to 7-4 on Mike Fleming's third-inning two-run triple, but O'Brien's bases-loaded single scored three for the Cougars to knot the game. In the interim, the Cougars got clutch efforts from junior catcher Kevin Moore. Moore, who replaced injured starter Tim Wilde in the bottom of the first, threw out runners at second base for the final outs the third and fifth innings.
"Our team is much better than its record. We've got some guys with great batting averages," said Keith, a senior. "But that fifth inning was awesome."
Junior pitcher Jerry Scheff fanned three batters and allowed four hits and no walks after relieving starter John Young with the scored tied, 7-7. Scheff also led the decisive fifth inning with a first-pitch, solo homer off of Ritter to give the Cougars their first lead, 8-7.
"Their catcher [Milisitz] said, 'Here comes the fastball.' And I said 'Thank you,' " said Scheff. "And it was a fastball -- just like he said it would be."
Scheff's blast -- which cleared the 10-foot left-field fence -- was followed by Kevin Moore's RBI triple. Then O'Brien's monster home run cleared the fence, nearly shattering the school bus window that carried the Falcons to the game. That made the score, 10-7.
Brandon Steinham singled and scored on John Young's triple. Keith's opposite-field triple made it 12-7, before he was tripled in by Bobby Widmer for the winning margin.
"It was like the ball had eyes," said Severna Park coach Jim Pitt. "The way they were hitting the ball, they really deserved to win."