Falcons and Wildcats advance to a fourth showdown, this time for the 4A East Section I title
by Pat O’Malley
The game that most high school baseball fans, not everybody of course, wanted to see in Anne Arundel County is going to happen.
Yes, it’s going to be No. 4 Severna Park at No. 3 Arundel, on Tuesday (4:30 p.m.)at Bernie Walter Field in Gambriils.
It’s going to be the fourth meeting this spring between the two Anne Arundel powers – you can call it Anne Arundel County WAR-Part 4 as the County championship game winner in Severna Park (18-3) meets the County regular season champion in Arundel (18-4). It will be for the Class 4A East Section 1 championship with the winner advancing to the 4A East region final on Friday.
The two perennial contenders won their respective 4A East Section 1 semifinal games on Saturday to set up another encounter between them.
Arundel made it possible behind junior right-hander Dan Ownby with a 5-0 victory over No. 19 North County (14-7), while host Severna Park overcame a 10-5 deficit in the fourth inning and drilled an Anne Arundel County and playoff record seven dingers, including a two-run job by senior Drew Jeffries in the bottom of the eighth inning for a 13-12 victory over Old Mill (13-8).
Senior Kody Milton, who walloped one of the 4-base knocks in going 4-for-5, went 3.2 innings in relief to post the win for Severna Park, which is 2-1 against Arundel this season. The Falcons took the first regular season game with Arundel by 11-9 while the latter Wildcats took the second game by 6-2 to win the regular season title.
Then at Joe Cannon Stadium in Harmans last Tuesday (May 8), Severna Park copped the Anne Arundel County Championship game by 12-9. There is one more head-on clash left.
NO. 3 ARUNDEL 5, NO. 19 NORTH COUNTY 0
Dan Ownby took a no-hitter into the top of the fourth inning and would give up only two hits in six innings pitched, but was in trouble most of the time because of his location deficiency as he walked six and hit a batter. Pitching into the seventh frame, Ownby walked at least one batter in five of his seven innings, except for two innings, the fourth when he hit the leadoff batter and the fifth when he retired the side in order.
The fifth was of course the only inning he didn’t put pressure on himself and he had given up the first hit in the fourth on a sacrifice bunt following the hit-batter (catcher Josh Nevins) to Ben Adams who beat it out. Ownby responded by getting the next three batters and stranded two.
Ownby, who is 5-1, went six full innings on 82 pitches, giving up only two hits and struck out three to avenge his only loss.
“I came out and tried to throw the best I could and if they hit it, they hit it,” said Ownby who suffered his only loss by 5-3 to North County early in the season.
“They can hit, but we make plays. Our defense is great. My fast ball wasn’t what I like but my curve ball was definitely my best pitch today. I was able to really locate it and I got a lot of strikes with it.”
In the home half of the fourth, the Wildcats, who had a 1-0 lead on a second inning knock by Dom Bromante, added to their advantage with a four-run stanza for a commanding 5-0 lead thanks to an RBI single by No. 9 hitter Greg Borges, a two-run knock by leadoff batter and senior and three-year starting infielder Matt Hagemann and a North County miscue. The clutch hits came off Knights starter Jake Murphy and reliever Ryan Pfisterer.
Borges said his hit “felt great” and that he was looking for an off-speed pitch and got it while Hagemann said the Wildcats took advanatge of a good situation in the bottom of the fourth.
“We know that North County is a good team and gave us a loss,” said Hagemann. “We had to fight our all to come out on top.”
Shortstop and No. 3 batter PJ Alvanos, the Knights’ top hitter, hit a sharp single to center leading off the top of the sixth for the only other hit North County would get. Alvanos was erased on the Cats’ second double-play of the game, started by senior second baseman Garrett Stanard.
“PJ Alvanos is a really good hitter, he hit a grandslam off me (in the loss to NC),” said Ownby, who pitches out of a set or stretch if you prefer (the position a pitcher takes when holding a runner) after his father recommended it. “My dad noticed that I move my head too much in a windup and it leaves me unfocused. Out of the stretch I am focused more.”
After Ownby struck out the last batter in the sixth, he walked Carson Lowman leading off the seventh. Cats’ coach Frank Hood summoned sophomore shutdown man, Cheddar Champ Wert who proceeded to close it out 1-2-3, striking out the first two and getting the last Knight on a ground ball to Stanard.
“Dan has been throwing pretty well this year coming off an arm issue he had in the fall,” said coach Hood. “He’s been getting stronger as the season goes on. His breaking ball has gotten a little tighter and is taking his role in the rotation.
“He threw well against these guys the last time minus the grand-slam (by Alvanos) after we blew a couple on defense.”
North County routed Glen Burnie, 12-2, in the first round and came in confident, but knew they had to play well at Arundel.
“I thought our kids played well, but we didn’t take advantage of some situations early in the game,” said coach Wayne Feuerherd, who is in his 14th season at North County where he once pitched and is the dean of Anne Arundel County coaches.
NO. 4 SEVERNA PARK 13, OLD MILL 12, 8 INNINGS
A wild game at Severna Park as the visiting Patriots got out to a 10-5 lead on the Falcons in the fourth inning before the home team came roaring back in their homer-friendly ball park to win it on a two-run, four-base knock by Drew Jeffries. Jeffries was one of five seniors out of six Falcons to go deep as Severna Park put on a fireworks show with an Anne Arundel County record seven home runs in a playoff game.
It is hard to believe, but the Falcons actually came up two home runs shy of the state record of nine which is shared by Parkdale (1988) and Parkside (2000). The national record is 10.
Kody Milton, who had one of the dingers early in the game, went 4-for-5 with a homer and two doubles and notched the win in relief working the last 3.2 innings.
Another senior, Luke Guy, jacked a two-run dinger in the fifth to make it a 10-7 ball game and in the bottom of the seventh he whacked a solo job to cut it to 11-10.
Old Mill had scored a run to up their lead to 11-9 in the top of the seventh, but after Guy’s second homer, Nick Horgan lifted one over the fence after taking a really close pitch on 0-2 to tie it up at 11.
“It was a really fun game,” said Guy afterwards. “I hit a fast ball both times, the second one was low and in and then Nick tied it up. We had to have it.”
Into extra innings, the Pats retook the lead at 12-11 against Kody Milton, the centerpiece player of Severna Park, on an error, but the Falcons came back again and won it.
Other Falcons to hit one out were catcher/pitcher George Lesher and the only underclassman to unload big sophomore first baseman Brendan Simonds, who delivered a two-run shot early in the game. But the seven-dinger feat did not upstage the all-around performance by Milton, who will play at Maryland next year.
“I don’t know how much more Kody can give us,” said Milton’s proud father, Eric Milton, the former major league pitcher, who coaches the Falcons. “He’s been playing great as have a lot of other kids on this team. I like exciting defense and pitching and maybe that is what we will get Tuesday at Arundel.”
Old Mill’s second-year head coach, George Chafin was disappointed of course to lose, but very proud of his young team that has only a handful of seniors.
“We reached our goals and I’m very proud of the way they played,” said Chafin. “I think we have a lot to look forward to next year.”
Picture above: Severna Park star Kody Milton, who had four hits, including two doubles and home run on Saturday, will due battle with Arundel one final time in his high school career.