Upsets by Arundel and Southern scramble league standings

by Pat O’Malley

Champ Wert, the Arundel Wildcats and the Southern Bulldogs have really fueled the fires of parity in Anne Arundel County that VSN has been writing about all this high school baseball season. Wert got more than his share of support from his teammates – two double-plays and a triple play – to shutdown No. 10 South River, 6-2 in Gambrills on Wednesday, while Southern stunned No. 6 Broadneck, 5-3 in Harwood.

Ryan Ross drove in a pair for the margin of victory for the Bulldogs (4-11) in Harwood and Zach Sims posted four scoreless innings to secure the victory.

Result? Chaos in Anne Arundel County with a capital “C.”

The top two finishing teams in AA County are set to play for the County championship 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday (May 7) at Bachman Park in Glen Burnie, but Wednesday’s results have created all sorts of scenarios to
determine the top two teams.

There is only game left in the 16-game regular season and Broadneck and South River are now each 11-4 each in league play while three other teams (No. 9 Severna Park, Arundel and No. 17 North County) are all 10-5 each and two (No. 8 Chesapeake and Northeast) are 9-6 going into Friday. Now that’s parity at its crazy best.

If Broadneck wins at Arundel (10-5) and South River wins at Annapolis (3-12) then its over as the frontrunners would each finish, of course, at 12-4 and they would play for the title. If both lose, five teams could finish at 11-5 each or if South River wins and Broadneck lose, the former Seahawks would be in while the Bruins could be one of four teams at 11-5.

Champ Wert took advantage of stellar defense by his teammates, as he scattered 11 hits but only allowed two runs in pitching a complete game and beating No. 10 South River, 6-2.

Let’s stop there and get back to the diamond where unranked, but oncoming (won 6 of last 9 games) Arundel completed a two-game season sweep of South River as the 6-foot-2, 240-pound Wert turned in a very efficient 11-hitter. The junior right-hander needed only 66 pitches to stop the Seahawks. He did not walk anyone, but
did hit a batter with a pitch and did not record a “K” until there was one out in the last inning.

South River got on the board in the fourth inning after falling behind 3-zip on a trio of errors and Anthony D’Urso’s first of two run scoring sacrifice flies to centerfield. Arundel turned its first of two 4-6-3 double-plays in the fourth inning with the bases loaded as courtesy runner Nick Pekel scored from third. Pekel was in for catcher Keaton Goetzger, who reached on his second single of the game.

The following inning the Hawks had two aboard with one out when Wert coaxed No. 3 hitter Kavi Caster into grounding into an inning-ending DP. His teammates got him two more runs in the bottom of the fifth on another D’Urso sac-fly and Wert himself singled in a run for a 5-1 lead.

In the top of the sixth, Wert plucked Goetzger with a pitch and losing pitcher, junior lefty Cael Huyer singled for the third time off Wert. Kevin Sieber then lined a shot at Wildcat second baseman Jayden Borza who fired to fellow sophomore, first baseman D’Urso to double off Huyer and the latter threw a strike to senior shortstop Greg Borges waiting on the bag at second to complete the 4-3-6 triple-play.

“It was great the way the defense played behind me,” said Wert. “They saved me a lot of pitches today. With the double-plays and of course the triple play. I didn’t feel like I had really good stuff but the team made the plays behind me when I really needed it most. We’re a really young team, lost 11 seniors from last year’s team and we’re starting to come together going into the playoffs.”

Wert retired the side in order in the first inning before giving up three singles to load the bases in the second inning, but got a pair of short fly outs to get out of the jam. The other run he have up came in the last inning with two gone when Chris Sheridan tripled to right for his second hit and came home on a bingle by Chris Nalley.

Huyer worked the first five innings and suffered the loss for South River despite giving up just three hits and two earned runs, striking out two and walking two on 80 pitches.

“When we throw the ball over the plate and play defense, we can play with anyody,” said Arundel’s trimmed down skipper, Frank Hood, who shed 75 pounds in the off-season. “This year who has ever played the best defensive game wins that game.

“We took advantage of South River’s mistakes today and got some timely hitting. The playoffs are going to be interesting.”

Pictured above: The Arundel triple play trio (from left): Second-baseman Jayden Borza, first-baseman Anthony D’Urso and shortstop Greg Borges. The play went 4-3-6.

South River (12-6, 11-4) 000 100 1 – 2 11 3
Arundel (12-7, 10-5) 201` 021 X – 6 4 1
Cael Huyer, Jake Petti (6) and Keaton Goetzger; Champ Wert and Sam Merchant.
3B: SR-Chris Sheridan.
WP – Wert (2-3) LP – Huyer