Dulaney exorcises playoff misery, ends No. 1 Howard’s reign in 4A state baseball; Mozoki shines (VIDEO HERE!)
by Pat O’Malley
Dulaney High sophomore Todd Mozoki has emerged as one of the top high school baseball players in the metro area and really made a statement on his poise and ability Tuesday in the “Battle of the Lions.”
Mozoki led the 3rd-ranked Dulaney Lions to a 6-2 victory over the top ranked Howard Lions for the Class 4A North Section I championship to advance to Friday’s final 4 p.m. at Sherwood of Montgomery County. Sherwood ousted Urbana of Frederick County, 6-3 for the Section II title.
Dulaney and Sherwood tied for the top seed in the region and a coin flip today (Wednesday) conducted by the MPSSAA gave Sherwood the nod for the home game.
Mozoki pitched a two-hitter through 5.1 innings to get the 6-2 win and was 3-for-4 with the bat including a two-run dinger in the bottom of the sixth to ice the big win. Howard had eliminated Dulaney (21-1 overall) the last two years in the regionals.
“We’ve experienced two losses in the past two years to Howard, especially last year in eight innings in a really emotional game so I know they have got to love it,” said Dulaney head coach Ryan Wolfsheimer, whose Lions are one game away from the State Final Four that they last achieved in 2001. “And Todd, “Zozo” is one of a kind player, the fact he is a two-way player makes him a big help. He was solid on the mound today in his five and some change (innings). He goes and gets a hit early in the first inning and hits a two-run home run in the sixth and put the nail in the coffin. I’m glad he’s a sophomore and not a senior like Bryce (Frederick).”
Frederick and Mozoki, who bat second and third respectively each played a role in a three-run first as Dulaney jumped right on Howard. Centerfielder Connor Stewart drew a walk to start things and Frederick, the school’s all-time career hits leader, and Mozoki each followed with knocks to center.
Catcher Finn Drew then singled off the glove of a leaping Howard second baseman Shayan Kassiri into centerfield to score Stewart and Frederick. A squeeze bunt by third baseman Jack Felt scored Mozoki’s courtesy runner Chris Huebler to start 3-0.
“It’s awful good to get on the gas pedal and getting those three runs was huge,” said Frederick, team leader who handled five chances at short flawlessly. “Yes, Todd is really good athlete. We’ve got a lot of young guys and they all belong.”
Mozoki, a righthander, came out in the sixth inning having thrown 86 pitches and a couple innings on Saturday in an 11-0 romp over Perry Hall. He left the bump after giving up his third walk and hiting a batter with a pitch and getting an out in between. Mozoki moved to first base switching with lefthander Cole McGee, who was greeted by a roped single to left by Jerras Murray to make it a 4-2 ball game.
Dulaney had added a fourth run on a one-base knock by Bennett Mussleman in the bottom of the fifth. The Murray knock made put in position to possibly tie it up, but McGee got two fly outs to end the inning and Mozoki delivered his big fly in the bottom half of the sixth.
“Last year I started the extra inning game (2-1 loss in 8 innings) and we just couldn’t pull it out, so we had a bad, horrible feeling all year,” said Mozoki. “I felt great out there today and Finn (Drew, catcher) helped me out a lot. I was ready for the pitch and hit it out.
It’s great the way these guys welcomed me as a freshman and I’m just their roles and hope to be like them one day.”
Senior righthander Will Farlow (8-0) pitched the seventh and got Howard in order thanks to a game-ending 6-4-3 double play started by Frederick. Farlow will be available for the Baltimore County champions on Friday at Sherwood and is the likely starter.
“That’s a helluva team over there (Howard), some great players in that dugout and they’ve had a great run over the last couple years and we knew it would take everything we got to beat a quality team like that,” said Wolfsheimer.
There’s no question that Howard has had a great run making the state Final Four two years in a row and the final both times, winning it all last year by a 5-4 comeback victory over Severna Park.
“We don’t have anything to hang our heads about,” said Howard coach Nick Hoffner. “Their pitcher (Mozoki) threw really well, made the pitches when he needed to. Have to tip your hat to him. We mounted a nice comeback there….Just wasn’t our day today.
Our seniors and all the kids did a lot for this program. They put us on the map as a team to be reckoned with, not only in Howard County but in the state…I’m proud of these guys and they should know what they have done for this program.”
Class 4A North Section I Final
No. 3 DULANEY 6, No. 1 HOWARD 2
Howard (19-3) 000 002 0 – 2 3 0
Dulaney (21-1) 300 012 x – 6 9 2
Brendan Foster, Brian Jakubek (2), Ryan Kulick (6), Ben Fader (6) and Jakubek, Shayan Kassari (2); Todd Mozoki, Cole McGee (6), Will Farlow (7) and Finn Drew.
HR – Dulaney: Mozoki
WP – Mozoki (5-0)
LP – Foster