Umphries delivers gem in 8-1 victory over Broadneck

by Pat O’Malley

A surprising hero on the bump coupled with some timely hitting and excellent defense played a major role in South River winning its first ever Anne Arundel County baseball championship by 8-1 over Broadneck at Bachman Sports Complex in Glen Burnie Tuesday night.

(From left) Kevin Sieber, Gavin Umphries and Chris Sheridan show off their championship medals after helping lead South River to the 2019 Anne Arundel County baseball championship.

Senior right-hander Gavin Umphries, who is the fifth-ranked Seahawks’ No. 4 pitcher in what is a deep staff, turned in a brilliant performance, limiting the potent No. 6 Bruins to just three hits. Umphries, who also had two hits, went six innings on 90 pitches striking out a pair, walking one and hitting two batters to post the victory.

Jake Petti, also a senior right-hander pitched the final inning retiring the side in order.

Third-baseman Chris Sheridan is the ninth batter in the Hawks’ lineup and was 2-for-3 with three RBI’s while No. 5 batter, first baseman Kevin Sieber went 3-for-4 with a double and two RBI’s. Senior center-fielder Kavi Caster was also 3-for-4 with a double and the victors took advantage of five Bruin errors that enabled them to pile up the runs in their last three at bats.

It was South River’s third victory over a very good Broadneck team this
season and a fourth meeting is looming in the Class 4A East Region on May 14 in the Section II final, provided both teams win on Saturday. A fourth game between the two would be at Broadneck (14-5, 12-5), the No. 1 seed while South River (14-6, 13-4) is No. 3.

Broadneck and South River each finished 12-4 in the county regular season and the latter was declared regular season champion by virtue of their 2-0 head-to-head record. And the Hawks added the overall crown with the championship game victory.

“We didn’t play our best the last few games of the season and we wanted to play good baseball (Tuesday night) going into the playoffs,” said South River’s first-year head coach Brian Camper, whose guys snapped Severna Park’s grip on the County championship. The No. 9 Falcons (15-5) had won four consecutive and seven of the last 10 Anne Arundel titles.

“Our pitching staff is pretty deep. We have a bunch of kids who can throw strikes and that’s the name of the game. When we don’t give up free bases and extra outs, we are a tough team. Hopefully we can just keep it rolling into the playoffs.”

Umphries and Dillon Smith hooked up in a pitcher’s dual that had South River leading 2-1 after four innings. A sac fly by Ben Schultz scored freshman shortstop Josh Ehrlich who reached after being hit by a pitch from Umphries and gave the Bruins a 1-0 lead after three innings. Sheridan’s two-out knock in the bottom of the fourth gave the Hawks the lead for good at 2-1.

A four-run fifth by the Seahawks broke the game open and featured a two-run single by Sieber and an RBI base hit by Sheridan, who was the team’s leadoff man at the start of the season and now turns the order over in his 9th slot.

“Sometimes you have it and sometimes you don’t,” said Sieber, a junior as is Sheridan.

“Tonight I was feeling it and I was seeing the ball really well. And when I see the pitch I want, I jump on it. It feels great to win the County championship. Last Year we struggled a lot and were 8-13 and lost in the first round of the playoffs. This Year we are much more motivated, much more wanting to win.”

The Seahawks closed the scoring with a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth highlighted a pair of two-baggers by Caster and Sieber and a couple of miscues by the Bruins. Meanwhile, Umphries continued to mow down the usually hard-hitting Bruins.

“I was mainly throwing fast balls and curve balls and throwing strikes and trusting my defense,” said Umphries. “I pitch to contact and my teammates make the plays behind me. They made some amazing plays for me.”

South River made just one error and it did not factor in a run. Caster, who tracks a fly ball as well as any outfielder in the metro area, had four putouts in centerfield making them all look routine. Junior shortstop Chris Nalley, one of the county’s slickest defenders, handled four chances flawlessly.

It appears the Seahawks have got it together in time for the post-season. South River won its state baseball championship in coach Ken B. Dunn’s 35th and final season in 2013 and are confidently setting their sights on making a run for another.

“In the beginning of the year coach Camper really preached this is less of a team and more of a family,” said Sheridan. “We want to win and get the job done, but it’s also about having fun because that’s really what it is all about.

“As the season progressed on, I think we have gotten a lot better with our chemistry and have really meshed together.”

(at Bachman Sports Complex)
Broadneck (14-5, 12-5) 001 000 0 – 1 3 5
South River (14-6, 13-4) 000 242 X – 8 8 1
Dillon Smith, Ryan Stolarzyck (5), Ryan Smolen (6) and Jackson Halla; Gavin Umphries, Jake Petti (7) and Donnie Mestas.
2B: B-Smolen ; SR-Kavi Caster, Kevin Sieber.
WP – Umphries (SR) LP – Smith (B)