Let down by his bullpen, Falcon ace delivers an upset of Arundel with his bat, in walk-off fashion
by Pat O’Malley
Despite an outstanding effort on the mound, Severna Park’s Cameron Clark didn’t get the win personally, but he got the win with his bat for his team as 12th-ranked Severna Park upset No. 4 Arundel, 11-9 in the baseball season opener for both schools in Severna Park on Monday.
Clark, a senior right-hander, left after six innings with a 9-2 lead featuring an 8-run fifth inning in which the host Falcons belted four dingers only to have their bullpen fail them as the Wildcats tallied seven runs in the top of the seventh to tie the game at nine.
No problem – Clark went deep to right-center with A.J. Weyant aboard with one out in the bottom of the 7th to end the donnybrook.
“It felt great, knew it was gone as soon as I hit it,” said Clark, who is the Falcons’ ace and was 6-1 with an 0.90 ERA as a junior. “This was a big win because for the first time since I’ve been here we’re the underdogs. We’re young and we’re learning. We know everybody doesn’t think we are going to do much, but we’ll see.”
Simply put, Clark and his defending champion Falcon mates aren’t putting up the white flag of surrender as they embarked on their quest of a fourth consecutive Anne Arundel County crown.
“Hitting is no doubt our strength, and we are deep there,” said Severna Park coach Eric Milton. “Cam is our ace and we expect big things from him. Our younger pitchers need to step up.”
Clark and Arundel senior right-hander Steve Sturlaugson, who was 6-2 with a 1.18 ERA last year, were locked in a tight pitcher’s duel until all hell broke loose in the bottom of the fifth at the Falcon’s dinger friendly park. The Severna Park students are in a new state of the art school, gymnasium and turf fields for football, lacrosse and other sports, but the baseball diamond is literally a diamond in the rough.
Because of the construction, fences and trucks all over the site in recent months, the baseball diamond has suffered and has been left for last by default. The pitchers’ mound on which Clark and Sturlaugson locked horns was just put it in the day of the game. The situation actually could not be helped all things considered and hopefully will get better, but the players were pretty happy with the result Monday.
Clark had just retired the side in the top of the fifth, when the Falcons’ leadoff batter Jacob Way homered with one out to center to break the ice. Clark walked and Kody Milton, who led the Falcons in homers last spring and is closing in on the school career record for dingers, drilled a shot over the center-field fence making it 3-zip and chasing Sturlaugson.
Will Schubert, who was 4-2 with an 0.46 ERA as a junior, came on for the Cats’ and walked George Lesher and yielded a knock to Brenden Simonds. Drew Jeffries promptly deposited a 1-2 pitch from Schubert over the left field fence for a 6-0 lead. The Falcons weren’t through as Jordan Hallet deliverd a two-bagger to left and came home on Nick Horgan’s two-run shot to left.
Down by 8-0, Arundel skipper Frank Hood replaced Schubert with Champ Wert and the big right-hander got the last two outs. The Cats got on the board in the top of the sixth when the Aristy brothers, the No. 3 and 4 hitters, teamed up for a pair. Senior shortstop Moises singled and junior center-fielder Noel followed with a two-run shot to center.
It looked dismal for Arundel when the Falcons upped their advantage to 9-2 on an RBI knock by Jeffries, who went 3-for-4 with four RBI’s on the day, scoring Milton.
Clark had finished his outing with six innings pitched, two runs given on seven hits, nine K’s and a base on balls, and it would take three relievers to get out of the top of the 7th. Juniors, lefty Camden Handwerger and righty Michael Isakov couldn’t get anybody out and suddenly it was 9-9 as the Cats got big blows from Garrett Stanard, Pat Mason and Wert who had a two-run double.
Milton moved from third-base to the hill to get three outs leaving the go-ahead run on third to set the stage for the left-hand hitting Clark.
“Our pitchers were up and not down while Cam (Clark) did a great job for them,” said coach Hood. “I thought our pitchers were a little rusty today but they will be fine.”
NO. 12 SEVERNA PARK 11, NO. 4 ARUNDEL 9
Arundel (0-1) 000 002 7 – 9 10 2
Severna Park (1-0) 000 081 2 – 11 10 1
SP – Cam Clark, Camden Handwerger (7), Michael Isakov (7), Kody Milton (7) and George Lesher.
A – Steve Sturlaugson, Will Schubert (5), Champ Wert (5) and EJ Santana.
2B: SP – Jordan Hallet; A – Wert.
HR: – SP – Jacob Way, Milton, Drew Jeffries, Nick Horgan and Clark; A – Noel Aristy.
WP – SP – Milton (1-0) LP – A – Wert (0-1)