Adversity is the evil that can destroy good teams. It’s how teams, especially high school teams react to adversity – you either step up or go down.
Count Chesapeake of Anne Arundel County among those teams who stepped up with crisis knocking on the door. And it wasn’t the thunderstorms that swept through the metro area and caused two delays from two outs in the bottom of the sixth until visiting River Hill took its final at-bat in the top of the seventh.
The No. 4 ranked Cougars turned their backs on adversity and won their second Class 3A East Region title in a row and their third in four years by 5-0 over No. 10 River Hill (17-6) in Lake Shore. Junior right-hander Joe Seidler’s four-hitter (all singles) and some timely hitting led the Cougars.
Chesapeake (19-3) will host the North region winner, No. 16 C. Milton Wright (18-7), a 4-1 victor over Lansdowne (16-3), at Joe Cannon Stadium in Harmans Tuesday at either 4 or 7 p.m.
“We have faced a lot of adversity recently,” said Chesapeake senior shortstop Dillon Oxyer, after he delivered a base-clearing double in the bottom of the sixth inning with two outs following two thunder-lightning and rain relays. “Since May 1st, we have lost four players – two to grades and two for stupidity (two starters who broke school rules just before the playoffs) and it lit a fire under us.”
Seventh-year coach Ken King and his coaches met with the team after the most recent loss of the two starters and told his guys, “We can only go forward and make this the last time we talk about it.”
King praised Oxyer for his leadership and called him the team’s “spiritual leader.”
Oxyer, the only player in the game with two hits, asked coach King if the team could have a players only meeting and was given the green light to do so.
“It only took about two minutes and the adversity we’ve had to deal with has brought us closer together and we get another chance at a state championship,” said Oxyer, referring to last season’s loss in the 3A state championship game to Huntingtown.
“I love this group of guys.”
The group of guys that Oxyer loves got it done Friday against a very good River Hill team that knocked off No. 7 Reservoir on Wednesday, 8-0, avenging a Howard County regular season 8-1 loss to the Gators (16-5).
With Seidler in command with his fast ball and his teammates playing flawless defense, the Cougars scored two big runs in the fourth off the Hawks’ Dan Selby. Catcher Tommy McNamara singled in a run and Bobby Quisenberry drew a bases loaded walk to make it 2-0 before reliever Cole Gerardi came on to quell the rally.
After the first two Cougars skied to right in the bottom of the sixth, Dylan Young had a strike on him when the thunder and lightning stopped play. Following the required one-half hour wait to make sure the electric storm subsided, play started only to be stopped again after 15 minutes for another 15-minute delay.
Oxyer’s bases loaded two-bagger struck lightning on the Hawks and came just before the second stop. Play resumed with the Hawks coming up for their final at-bat.
Playing their fourth game of the week because of weather problems last week, the Hawks really couldn’t get anything going against Seidler, although they left two on via the latter’s only walk and an infield hit by leadoff batter Jake Parker in the fifth inning. Seidler, who struck out four and had a pitch count of 91 in posting his sixth win (6-1), retired the side in the top of the sixth before stranding two more Hawks in the seventh after the rain delay.
“Waiting like that, about an hour, takes its toll on you,” said Seidler, who had never pitched under such circumstances but responded well.
Seidler plucked his second Hawk of the game after getting the first batter on a fly ball to Quinseberry and Jon Sterling followed with a single to center to put two Hawks on. With a 5-0 lead, Seidler went right after Josh Mann and made him hit the ball to Oxyer who started a 6-4-3 double-play to end the game.
With that last play, Oxyer now has only two errors (both throwing) in 101 chances this season.
River Hill coach Wes McCoy, who played for the Hawks from 1999 to 2003 before taking the reins in 2009 and leading the team to a Class 2A State title, pointed to his team’s playing four games this week and using his ace and pro-prospect Kieran Garner, who is expected to pitch at Maryland, earlier in the week.
“The four games was rough and was a burden on our pitching,” said McCoy. “They (Chesapeake) were able to navigate their pitching (Chesapeake played three games).”
3A EAST REGION BASEBALL FINAL
N0. 4 CHESAPEAKE-AA 5, NO. 10 RIVER HILL 0
River Hill Hawks (17-6) 000 000 0 – 0 4 2
Chesapeake-AA (19-3) 000 203 X – 5 5 0
RH – Dan Selby, Cole Gerardi (4), Lucas Balda (6) and Luke “”Bubba’’’ Parker.
C – Joe Seidler and Tommy McNamara.
WP – C – Joe Seidler (6-1)
LP – RH – DanSelby.
2B: C – Dillon Oxyer.