Up against defending state-champion Howard on Tuesday in the 4A North regional semifinals, Todd Mozoki and Dulaney knew that they would have to be at their best.
And, with Mozoki shining both on the mound and at the plate, the host Lions delivered on the way to a 6-2 victory.
“We have a routine that we go through every day and it just always prepares us,” Mozoki said. “Finn [Drew] calls a great game and I always have my defense — Bryce [Frederick] (Baltimore County Player of the Year) made a ton of plays today for me and when everyone does their role, good things happen.”
Mozoki pitched 5.1 innings and allowed just two hits for Dulaney (19-1), also adding a 3-4 day at the plate that included a clutch two-run home run in the sixth inning.
Dulaney capitalized early with three runs in the bottom of the first inning off of Howard starter Brendan Foster. Connor Stewart and Bryce Frederick were plated with a single by Drew with no outs. Jack Felt would score Mozoki with a ground out.
After a three-inning stalemate, Dulaney would generate another run in the bottom of the fifth inning. Following a Murphy ground out, Cole McGee would walk and steal a base. Then, Ty Tafuno would advance McGee to third base with a single before Bennett Mussleman scored McGee on a single of his own, giving Dulaney a 4-0 lead.
Things got a bit dicey for Dulaney in the top of the sixth inning.
Howard’s Jerry O’Neil was walked by Mozoki and advanced on a ball put in play by Alex Campbell. Will Simmons was then hit by a pitch and Mozoki would be relieved by McGee. With Jerras Murray at-bat, Drew had a passed ball that moved both runners over. Murray then roped a single to score both Maynor and Simmons, pulling the vistors within two runs.
Dulaney had one more chance to pad their lead and that they did.
Frederick would draw a walk and Mozoki lifted a two-run home run over the left field fence, giving him his third hit of the day.
Closing the game for Dulaney was sophomore Wilson Farlow — the Baltimore County Pitcher of the Year. After giving up a single to Howard’s Aidan O’Connor, Shayan Kassiri popped out to the catcher and Ben Fader grounded into a double play to end the game.
McGee and Farlow allowed just a hit apiece and zero runs in their 1.2 combined innings of relief. Mozoki led the way with his three hits — Drew (1-3, two RBI), Mussleman (1-3, RBI) and Frederick (1-2, two runs, two walks) also had a hit a piece.
“We expected those guys — Howard’s a hell of a team and a great program — state championship last year, state finalist the year before, we knew they were going to play seven innings,” said Dulaney head coach Ryan Wolfsheimer. “Last year, they beat us in eight innings here. So, we knew it was going to take every pitch for the whole game in order to beat these guys.
“And again, my guys — they’re relentless. They’re not going to stop. They’re going to keep on bringing it every inning in some way, shape or form in order to get the job done.”
Howard (14-2) finished the year with a loss in the same place that they advanced at last year. They had many chances to capitalize, but Mozoki had their respective numbers when push came to shove.
“I told them that we don’t have anything to hang our heads about,” Howard head coach Nick Hoffner said. “They beat us today. Their pitcher threw really, really well — made the pitches when he needed to all day. So, you’ve got to tip your hat to them.
“We mounted a nice comeback there in that sixth inning and they were able to tack on a couple of extra runs and go up 6-2. We just really couldn’t get anything going offensively today and sometimes that happens in baseball. They pitched a little bit better than us today. It wasn’t because of a lack of effort, it just wasn’t our day today.”
Dulaney will take on Sherwood (21-1) on Friday for the 4A North regional title.
Reach Kyle J. Andrews at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @KyleJAndrewsSun.