North Harford's baseball team has been hot all season. Last night at Arundel High, for the second straight season, the Hawks ran into a team that was hotter.
Frederick County's Walkersville (20-2), the defending Class 2A champion, got a six-strikeout performance from pitcher Dustin Dreisonstok and a bases-clearing triple from Lane Strobel in the second inning en route to a 6-1 state semifinal victory over the Hawks (16-6).
Walkersville ended the Hawks' season last year, too, that game also a state semifinal. Walkersville has won 14 straight games since an April 7 loss at North Hagerstown.
The Lions will meet Towson in Saturday's Class 2A state championship game at Joe Cannon Stadium in Harmans.
"We played well tonight. I think we played good enough to win, but nothing fell in," said North Harford coach Tim Larrimore. "We got behind, and we couldn't manufacture runs."
The Hawks were able to get men on base but unable to drive them in, stranding 10 runners.
The loss wasted a fine effort from North Harford's Steve Phipps. The senior pitcher, bound for Tallahassee (Fla.) Community College next season, struck out 10 in a losing effort.
"I thought I pitched well, but they took advantage of the mistakes I made," Phillips said. "You have to hand it to [Walkersville], they got it done tonight."
The Hawks scored their only run in the first inning, when Jason Johnson's single scored Jeremy Stifler to tie the score 1-1.
Walkersville used two singles and a walk to load the bases before Strobel tripled to deep center field, clearing the bases for a 4-1 lead. Strobel later scored on a single by Pat Calloway to run the lead to 5-1.
The Lions added a run when Hawks pitcher Scott Phillips hung a fastball that infielder Derek Krantz sent over the center-field wall to run the lead to 6-1.
North Harford never got a runner past second base the rest of the game.
"Our goal was to win the region again, and we did that," Larrimore said. "Our next goal was to win the states, and we fell short. I'm proud of my players, though. We didn't leave anything on the field tonight."
Class 3A Fallston 5, La Plata 4
Class 2A Walkersville 6, North Harford 1
(At Joe Cannon Stadium, Harmans)
Class 4A Dulaney vs. Watkins Mill, 7p.m.
Class 1A Rising Sun vs. St. Michael's,
Class 2A Towson vs. Walkersville, 3:30
Class 3A Damascus vs. Fallston, 7