Perry Hall coach Larry Butts said he never knows who is going to step up for his top-ranked and undefeated baseball team.
In yesterday's Class 4A state semifinal game at Joe Cannon Stadium in Anne Arundel Stadium, it was sophomore Mandel Marsh who rose to the occasion with a three-run homer that sent the Gators on their way to a 7-0 win over Northern of Calvert County.
"Mandel hasn't been doing a whole lot lately, but he came through with a big hit for us today," said Butts. "That home run let everyone relax a little bit."
Perry Hall (20-0) can relax for now, but the Gators will have their hands full when they face Gaithersburg (15-4) in Saturday's 7 p.m. Class 4A final at McCurdy Field in Frederick.
The Trojans of Montgomery County advanced to this weekend's finale by defeating defending state champion Arundel, 4-1, in the Class 4A nightcap at Joe Cannon.
Third baseman Craig Bevans got things going for Perry Hall in the second inning when he reached on catcher's interference. Mike Stefanoni followed with a walk and the two runners were brought home when Marsh sent a fastball from Casey Richardson well over the 310-foot sign in left field.
The Gators, who will be making their third straight state final appearance, caught Northern sleeping in the third inning. After reaching on an error and moving to third on a pair of grounders, Jeff Burrows scored with Bevans caught in a rundown between first and second.
Andy Hudak then singled to score Bevans and make it 5-0.
Wes Wedmore opened the fifth inning with a double and eventually scored on a sacrifice fly by Burrows. Three pitches later, Bob Trzeciak, who bunted for a hit and moved to third on a single by Joe Basiaga, scored on a passed ball.
From there, Perry Hall right-hander Danny Brown (9-0) did the rest. The senior retired the side in the fifth and sixth and closed the game with two of his seven strikeouts.
Arundel's pitching ace, Brian Rolocut (11-1), had control problems early and it proved costly in the third inning. Andrew Walter doubled in junior Eric Frazier to break a 1-1 tie before Rolocut loaded the bases when he walked a batter and hit another. Rolocut then walked in a run before being relieved by sophomore Brandon Agamennone.
@ Lansdowne has had a flair for the dramatic late in the season, and last night at Arundel in the state Class 3A semifinal was no different for the third-seeded Vikings (17-4).
Rich Keys' sacrifice fly and an error in the top of the seventh allowed Lansdowne to score its only two runs and pitching made it stand, as the Vikings defeated second-seeded Thomas Stone (16-4), 2-1, earning their first berth in a Class 3A state title game, Saturday at 4 p.m. at McCurdy Field.
The Vikings will meet Thomas Johnson of Frederick County, a 6-1 winner over top seed Watkins Mill in the other semifinal at Arundel.
"Pitching and defense have done it for us all year," said Lansdowne coach Rod Bareford. "I think our 13-inning victory [1-0 over Franklin in the regional final] really prepared us for this."
Lansdowne's Randy Musgrove led off the top of the seventh with a double and advanced to third on a throwing error. After Brian Sullivan singled and stole second, Thomas Stone pitcher Nick Paul walked Lansdowne catcher Rob Parsons, loading the bases. Two batters later, Keys flied deep to center and the ball bounced off the center fielder's glove, allowing two runs to score.
Northeast earned the right to defend its state Class 2A title on Saturday at McCurdy Field by shutting down fourth seed James M. Bennett of Salisbury, 7-3, at Arundel High.
Northeast will meet Walkersville, a 3-2 winner over Patapsco in extra innings yesterday in the other semifinal at McCurdy Field.
Third baseman Chad O'Brien paced top seed Northeast (17-5), capping a 3-for-3 day with a 365-foot homer to put the Eagles ahead 5-1 in the fourth. The senior also scored three runs and stole two bases. K. C. Murphy was 2-for-4 with two RBI.
"I wasn't happy with having to play at 1 o'clock, but I thought our kids jumped off real well 3-0, and took advantage of some of the mistakes they made," said Northeast coach Harry Lentz.
Through seven innings Patriots pitcher Mike Coleman shut down a Lions offense that had averaged seven runs a game.
It was the eighth inning, however, that spelled the end of Patapsco's Class 2A title run. Walkersville's Chris Palmer doubled down the left-field line, and pinch runner Justin Warfield slid in ahead of John Snook's throw to the plate to give the Lions the win.
"It's a heart-breaker, for sure," said Patapsco coach Dave Ingle, "but we have nothing to feel bad about. No mistake cost us the game, and when it came down to the last inning, they just hit the ball and scored the run. It's a shame either team had to lose this one."
Rich Scherr and John Harris III
FREDERICK -- Joppatowne sent eight men to the plate and scored three runs in the second inning en route to a 4-3 Class 1A state semifinal win over Cambridge-South Dorchester at McCurdy Field.
The Mariners advance to Saturday's 1 p.m. state final at McCurdy Field, where they'll face Brunswick, a 4-0 winner over Clear Spring in the other semifinal.
"We've waited three years for this," said Joppatowne coach Al Zelinski, whose 18-3 team was knocked out in last year's regional final. "Today we played the best team in the state in our division. The kids were a little nervous."
That was evident in the first inning, when Mariners starter Damon Davies loaded the bases on a single and a pair of walks, and gave up a two-run single to give the Vikings (15-8) a 2-0 lead.