Who says three strikes and you're out? Certainly not Dulaney's baseball team.
The Lions (13-6) had lost three close ones in their most recent meetings with third-ranked Perry Hall, twice in extra innings by one run.
But in yesterday's Class 4A, Region II title game at Dundalk Community College, it was the Gators (14-2) -- last year's state champions -- who suffered a 6-5 loss that prevented them from reaching the state finals for a fourth straight year.
Dulaney, the fourth seed for the state tournament, will meet top-seeded and top-ranked Arundel, a 7-1 winner over Old Mill, Tuesday at Joe Cannon Stadium in Harmans.
The Lions got 11 hits in building a 6-1 lead after four innings.
Perry Hall had 16 hits in its 18-1 regional semifinal win over Laurel, but had just five against the Lions.
"This is sweet," said Dulaney right fielder Greg Mumford (2-for-4, two RBI). "Maybe this will finally give our baseball team the respect and recognition of our lacrosse teams."
Perry Hall won last year's regional championship in 10 innings, but Dulaney third baseman Jason Jacobs said, "We came in here with the confidence of a thousand armies."
Jacobs, who went 3-for-4 with two RBI and two runs, added, "We started getting nervous near the end, but I had confidence in our pitcher."
Rodney Maenner (6-2) pitched for 6 2/3 innings, being relieved by ace Jeff Berman (2-for-4, one run scored) after yielding five runs and three walks against five strikeouts. Berman (4-1, 89 strikeouts) retired the game's last four batters.
"I was just always throwing to get my first strike," said Maenner. "I let the defense do the rest."
Mumford's first-inning RBI single made it 1-0, and Jacobs' bases-loaded single made it 3-0 in the second.
Perry Hall committed six errors, including three in a three-run fourth for the Lions, who got their fifth and sixth runs on singles by Mumford and Eron Arizzi.
"We just made too many mistakes early and gave them too many runs," said coach Larry Butts, whose Gators entered the season with a three-year 59-3 record, including 21-0 last year.
Perry Hall scored its first run on a second-inning single by Ryan Burks and came within 6-3 on a fifth-inning, two-run single by Jason Essel. Jesse McBride's two-run single brought the Gators within a run with two outs in the bottom of the sixth.
McBride stole second and took third on an error before a controversial call by the plate umpire swung the momentum back to Dulaney.
On the call, the next batter, Mandel Marsh, was first awarded first base after being hit by Maenner's pitch. But after an appeal by Dulaney coach Ray Audlin to the field umpire, the pitch was ruled a ball and Marsh subsequently popped out to the catcher.