It doesn't get any better than last night's Class 4A state baseball final at Joe Cannon Stadium in Harmans as top-ranked Arundel outlasted No. 2 Dulaney, 5-4, in eight innings.
Arundel jumped out to a 4-0 lead after three innings, but Dulaney pecked away with two in the fourth and single runs in the fifth and sixth innings. Dave Gobeli (7-2), who went all the way for the Lions, singled in the tying run in the sixth with two outs.
Neither team scored in the next inning to set the stage for the climactic ending.
Junior designated hitter Bobby Goldbeck told winning pitcher (in relief) Jason Lively (10-0) before he went to the plate in the bottom of the eighth that he was going to get the winning hit.
"He said Nick [Pleyo, who had singled to move the winning run to second] was going to get a hit and he was game," Lively said.
"He called it, and went up there and did it."
The Wildcats started the bottom of the eighth with an out, but Joe Stevens singled to center and coach Bernie Walter inserted freshman Joe Zimmerman as a pinch runner for Stevens.
Zimmerman moved to second when Pleyo sliced a liner into left for a single off Gobeli.
Goldbeck stroked Gobeli's first pitch into center field for a single and Zimmerman slid home easily. The ninth-grader ended up on the bottom of a huge kelly green-clad mound of players.
Lively took over for starter Joey Frykman with two outs in the fifth and went the rest of the way. Lively, who gave up the tying run in the fifth, gave up three hits, striking out four in 3 1/3 innings.
Since the state public school tournament started in 1975, The Sun's No. 1 and No. 2 teams had never met in a final until last night. In denying Dulaney (22-3) its first state title, Arundel (24-2) added its ninth state crown to the Maryland record it already owned.
Arundel tied the state public school record for wins in a season, equaling the mark set by the 24-0 Northeast team of 1991, and became the first team to win state titles in four decades.
In closing their season with 17 consecutive wins, the Wildcats also delivered Anne Arundel County's 21st title and the seventh in the largest enrollment division in the past 11 years.
It was one of the most satisfying wins in Walter's 28 years at the Gambrills school.
"When you have been here as many times as I have, it kind of gets to be old hat," said Walter, who is Maryland's all-time winningest public school coach at 484-131.
"This team really deserved it. They didn't get a lot of respect early. You have to understand how hard this team worked to get here. And tonight they came through in a lot of crucial situations."
Dulaney 000 211 00 -- 4 7 1
Arundel 301 000 01 -- 5 12 2
Gobeli and Headd; Frykman, Lively (5) and Puglise. 2B: A-Goldbeck; D-Stuart. 3B: D-Headd.