CLINTON -- It has not been the best year for the Northeast baseball team, having gone 10-10 and just barely reaching the Maryland Class 2A playoffs.
But yesterday Harry Lentz's Eagles looked like a team going for its third straight state title. The Eagles defeated Region III No. 1 seed Surrattsville, 6-2, at Cosca Regional Park in Prince George's County.
Northeast advances to today's region final at Damascus, an 11-2 winner over Rockville in yesterday's other region semifinal.
Northeast got its offense from the bottom of the order as No. 9 hitter Scott Taylor had two hits and drove in five runs, including a three-run homer that broke the game open in the fourth inning.
Eagles right-hander Wayne Hudson went the distance, giving up four hits and striking out 12.
"[Surrattsville] really had a tough time with the curveball today," Hudson said. "I don't think Prince George's County baseball is up to par with Anne Arundel, so they don't see the kind of pitching we're used to. I don't think they knew what to expect."
Surrattsville beat up on its Prince George's County competition this season, going 14-2, but Hornets coach Gordon Libby echoed Hudson's comments about the differences in the two teams.
"We don't see this kind of pitching every day," Libby said. "Northeast is certainly better than their record, and I think our schedule hurts us when we get to the playoffs. We just don't get a fair barometer of the competition."
Surrattsville started well enough. Hornets pitcher Mike Leszczynski led off the home first with a homerun to center field for a 1-0 lead.
The Eagles came right back in the top of the second to take the lead. With Rich Heffner and James Wanner on base, Taylor got his first two RBI with a one-out single to center.
Surrattsville tied the score at two in the third, but Taylor struck again in the fourth. Wanner had singled and Jeff Hagen walked to put men on first and second with one out. Taylor got a fastball up in the strike zone and hit it over the center-field fence to give Northeast a 5-2 lead.
Eagles catcher Robert Miller closed the scoring with a homer in the seventh.
Lentz said the victory did a lot to establish his club's credibility.
"When you come in with a 10-10 record, people wonder if you deserve to be here," Lentz said. "But we beat the No. 1 seed, so that should help change some minds. I think our schedule gives us an advantage when we get to the playoffs."
Said Hudson: "It's a new season now and someone has to win four games in a row. We figure it might as well be us."