Eastern Vo-Tech coach Joe Gast found it difficult to argue after watching his visiting Mavericks bow to No. 4 Perry Hall, 16-6, yesterday in a Baltimore County 4A-3A League game.
"They were 10 runs better than us today and they were 11 runs better the last time we played them, so they must be [better]," said Gast, referring to his team's first meeting, a 21-10 loss. "You won't hear me say they aren't."
After yielding five runs in the top of the first on a leadoff home run by Rob Dolley and three-run triple by Derek Marmen, the defending state champion Gators (12-1, 12-1) tightened the margin.
A walk, an error and a sacrifice fly by sophomore Chris Uda gave Perry Hall its first run and Dan Occhionera's home run into the woods in left-center brought the hosts within 5-4.
Three consecutive walks by Perry Hall starter Jesse Moore helped EVT add a run in the fourth on senior Jason Schisler's sacrifice fly to center.
Perry Hall produced six runs on five hits in its half of the fourth.
Brian Smetana started the rally with a single and moved to second on a fielder's choice. Junior Mandel Marsh followed with a double to left that easily scored Smetana to bring the Gators within 6-5.
Run-scoring singles by senior Jeff Burrows and sophomore Jason Essel gave Perry Hall the tying and go-ahead runs.
An error by the shortstop allowed Essel to score from second and a double by senior Paul Imwold brought home the inning's final two runs, giving Perry Hall a 10-6 lead and prompting Gast to move Bobby Sheets from third base to the mound. Sheets got the Mavericks out of the inning.
Perry Hall picked up another run in the fifth, when Marsh singled, stole second, moved to third on a deep fly to right and scored on a passed ball.
EVT threatened in the sixth and had the bases loaded with none out before right-hander Chris Tonsley was given the nod. Tonsley struck out the first two batters he faced and forced Eric Messercola into popping up to Essel at first base.
"Chris has come a long way," Perry Hall coach Larry Butts said of Tonsley. "The first part of the year he didn't have confidence, but now he knows that he can get guys out if he throws the ball across the plate. He had trouble getting the ball across the plate earlier, and now he's doing a good job."
The Gators did a good job of the nailing the game shut in the sixth inning. A two-run triple by pinch hitter Paul Kansler and a two-run double by Burrows were the highlights for Perry Hall, and the error that enabled Burrows to score from second was another lowlight for the Mavericks.
"We just can't get them," said Gast. "Every year we're close. This was a good game up until the fifth inning, but psychologically, you always have in the back of your mind, 'They're coming,' because these guys have pulled a lot of games out at the end. They're just a good team."