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High School sports

Sophomore pitcher Jackson Huck leads No. 4 Towson baseball to 2-1 win over No. 7 Reservoir in Class 3A semifinal

FREDERICK — In limited time on the mound for the Towson baseball team this season, sophomore left-hander Jackson Huck showed the ability to be productive.

But what about getting the start in the game that would determine if the No. 4 Generals got to play for a state championship?

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That big stage — the Class 3A state semifinal Tuesday against No. 7 Reservoir and its star senior pitcher Jordan Peguese — didn’t change anything for Huck.

The Gators tested him, putting runners on base in every inning but one, and he more than proved up to the task.

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Fittingly, the seventh inning was the sternest challenge as Huck retired Reservoir’s top two hitters — Ben Davis and Peguese — to leave the potential tying run on second base and give the Generals a 2-1 win at McCurdy Field.

Huck, who went into the game with a 1-0 mark in 17 innings this season, doubled his win total to help send the Generals (17-2) to Saturday’s championship game. They’ll meet No. 3 Chesapeake-AA -- a 6-2 semifinal winner over Thomas Johnson -- at 7 p.m. at Regency Furniture Stadium in Waldorf.

Huck allowed six hits on 85 pitches, effectively mixing his fastball and curve with consistent location on the outside corner. The Gators’ tying run in the fourth inning was unearned and they stranded eight runners.

“Jackson Huck is a 10th grader and man was that some poise out there?” Towson coach Shawn Tormey said. “We know he has the ability, but whenever you have a 10th grader, you just don’t know how he’ll react on this stage.

“It’s just so odd. You get on a bus, you come to Frederick an hour away to play a state semifinal and you don’t know how they’re going to respond until you put them in the situation. Jackson Huck passed with flying colors. He was amazing today.”

For Huck, the key was staying true to himself.

“Just go out and establish early, find the spots,” he said. “I kept on hitting my spots and just consistently threw strikes. This is definitely one I’ll remember.”

The Generals got the early lead in the top of the first inning when leadoff hitter Justin Mealey ripped a triple to deep center and scored on a Peguese wild pitch with two outs.

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Towson’s 1-0 lead would stick until the fourth inning, when the Gators scratched across their only run.

Davis, a senior catcher, led off with a single and Aiden Loehr stepped in as the pinch runner. Peguese laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance the runner, and after a groundout sent Loehr to third, he scored on an infield error. The Gators loaded the bases after tying the game, but Huck was able to strike out Zack Gaynor to end the inning.

The Generals got the lead back in the bottom of the fifth when Nate Droski singled with one out, moved to second on a passed ball and scored when Chase Suspensky’s high chop over the mound was misplayed.

Reservoir, which successfully executed all four of its sacrifice bunts, left two on in the fifth and one more in the sixth before the pressure-packed seventh.

Nate Del Tufo led off with a single and moved to second on Quinn Dean’s sacrifice bunt, bringing up Davis. After falling behind, Huck got the count to 3-2 and struck out Davis swinging on a curveball low and outside. Peguese followed with a hard-hit ball right at shortstop Tariq Talley to close the game.

“Top of the lineup, it was a bit scary, but my nerves didn’t get to me at all. I did what I did the whole game,” Huck said.

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Peguese allowed three hits and struck out nine for the Gators, who closed the season with a 19-4 mark.

“In the beginning of the season, we talked about starting strong and continue to work throughout and climb the ladder,” Reservoir coach Adam Leader said. “We didn’t get the win today, but I couldn’t be any prouder of my guys.

“It [stinks], but sometimes in this sport, the ball just doesn’t fall. We barreled a bunch of balls right at people — inches away. We got ourselves in good scoring situations, but we just never got that one hit we needed.”

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Set to make their second state championship game appearance, the Generals appear poised to bring home the program’s second state title and first since 2000.

They have their ace pitcher, senior left-hander Suspensky, primed to pick up where he left off when he delivered a two-hitter in Saturday’s 1-0 win over Rockville in the state quarterfinal. He’ll take a 9-1 record and a 0.39 ERA into the game, having struck out 66 batters in 53 innings this season.

“Our ace is going Saturday night and we’re confident,” Tormey said. “The kids are playing great and we’re ready to go.”

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R 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 -- 1 6 2

T 1 0 0 0 1 0 x -- 2 3 1

Huck and Steinbacher; Peguese, Gutierrez (6) and Davis

3B: T -- Mealey


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