Top-ranked Howard roars in a Sectional final date with Dulaney

by Pat O’Malley

Whenever his jersey keeps coming out of his pants, it’s usually a sign that Gabe Delgado has great stuff, especially in the breaking ball department. Delgado’s front end of his jersey kept popping out as he masterfully stymied the Catonsville Comets’ lineup to lead top-ranked Howard to a 9-1 victory in the Class 4A North Section I Semifinals in Clarksville Saturday afternoon.

Delgado shutout the VSN No. 12 ranked Comets through six innings on 97
pitches, yielding only three hits and two walks while striking out every batter in the visitors’ lineup at least once with the exception of No. 2 batter Mark Brady.

Throwing a back-breaking, shirt-tail releasing curve ball, Delgado struck out 11. Sophomore lefty Ben Fader finished he game for the Lions giving up the only run.

“We faced him last year and he did a great job in the playoffs (4-1 Howard win) on this field and they brought him at us again and he pitched another great game,” said Catonsville coach Eric Warm afterwards. “He was spotting the ball and getting ahead in the counts and my batters were on the defense. He deserved to win. Two good teams in Howard and Dulaney.”

Those two teams mentioned by coach Warm will meet for the 4A North Section I Championship on Tuesday at 3rd-ranked Dulaney (20-1), the No. 1 seed in the 4A North. Howard (19-2) is the No. 2 seed. The winner will play the Urbana at Sherwood winner of Section II (Tuesday) on Friday, May 17 for the right to advance to the Final Four.

Howard has taken the last two regional meetings with Dulaney. The latter
Dulaney advanced to Tuesday’s third meeting with Howard by routing Perry Hall, 11-0, in five innings on Saturday.

Junior ace Todd Mozoki fired a one-hitter and had three hits with two RBI’s for the Padonia Road school, while shortstop Bryce Frederick had two hits and three RBI’s.

Howard’s 9-1 win over Catonsville.

In Howard’s victory, the Lions staked Delgado (6-0) a 4-0 lead after two innings as junior shortstop Alex Campbell knocked in three of the runs. Campbell’s first inning knock off Catonsville starter and loser Will Jones produced the first run and Campbell came around on a throwing error.

“They looked like a better team than the team we played last year,” said
Campbell, who was recently moved from the leadoff spot to No. 3 hitter and is  loving it hitting in that spot. “I had never hit leadoff before and I thought I had the power to hit No. 3 and coach (Nick Hoffner) made the adjustment and I thought it was a great decision.“I love it. I think I’m in a spot to drive in some runs and that role is important. And I need to be in that position.”

Campbell singled in a pair in the second inning to make it 4-zip for Delgado, who ran into some trouble in the top of the third after striking out the first two batters, before loading the bases. He then coaxed Cody Brick to hit into a force to end the threat and Delgado never was in any serious threat the rest of his six-inning stint, retiring the last five Comets in order.

“All of my pitches (fast ball, curve and change) were working today,” said the extremely poised 6-foot-2, 185-pound right-hander. “I was able to throw my off-speed pitches for strikes and had them chasing pitches as well.”

The Lions iced the victory in the bottom of the sixth by erupting for five runs. Aidan O’Connor re-entered in his 9th spot in the order and started things with his second single of the day. Fader followed with a bunt hit and Terry O’Neill sacrificed both runners up.

The last two of Catonsville’s errors in the game and an RBI infield hit by Will Simmons enabled the Lions to plate four more runs. The 9-1 cushion was too much for the Comets to overcome.

“We made a couple mistakes out here on the bases today and we’ve got
to clean those up and I told the kids that you can’t get away with those in a close game,” said Howard coach Nick Hoffner, who won’t have his ace Delgado available on Tuesday at Dulaney.

“We haven’t made any final decisions on who we are going to pitch at
Dulaney. We will make that decision on Monday at practice.”

Catonsville finished a very good season at 15-4, three of the losses to
Dulaney (2) and Howard.

“We had a good, fun season,” said coach Warm. “Only one team gets to
not end its season on a loss and it’s not us. But our kids played hard all year and you saw that last inning and how they still had a lot of fight in them and didn’t give up.”

Sophomore left-hand hitting outfielder Nick Eiswert got his second hit of the game to drive in Catonsville’s only run and the Comets left two on base as Fader fanned the final batter to end it.

Pictured above: Howard ace Gabe Delgado defeated Catonsville, 9-1, to improve to 6-0.

CATONSVILLE (15-4) 000 000 1 – 1 5 4
HOWARD (19-2) 220 005 X – 9 10 1
Will Jones, Ben Hall (3) and Sam Brown; Gabe Delgado, Ben Fader (7) and Brian Jakubek
2B: HOW-Fader, Jakubek.
WP–Delgado (6-0) LP–Jones