Wildcats rally to victory while Champ Wert holds No. 4 Chesapeake-AA at bay
by Pat O’Malley
Two of Anne Arundel County’s top baseball teams met in Lake Shore Friday afternoon and each sent its ace out there at Chesapeake High School as Arundel came calling.
Many expected a big knockdown, showdown of a pitcher’s dual, as the home team’s two-time VSN Player of the Year Joe Seidler went against the visitors’ Will Schubert.
Instead, each club overcame deficits with some clutch hitting and VSN’s No. 9 Arundel Wildcats came away with a 7-6 victory over the No. 4 Chesapeake Cougars as sophomore Champ “Cheddar Champ” Wert came to the rescue for the visitors in a rather sloppy game, complete with errors and poor base running by both teams.
Chesapeake committed five errors, four in a four-run second inning while Arundel made two errors – both of those freebies resulted in runs. As for base running mistakes, there were too many to mention.
The result left Arundel (8-2 overall) at 5-1 in Anne Arundel County League action, a half game behind No. 6 Severna Park (9-1, 6-1). The latter Falcons out-slugged Glen Burnie, 14-9, for their sixth league win. No. 17 North County (7-2, 4-2) is right behind and Chesapeake fell to 6-3 and 4-3 losing its second in a row for the first time since 2015, when they lost to Arundel, 7-4, and Old Mill, 6-2, in back-to-back outings.
Wert came on in relief in the bottom of the fourth in a Cougar five-run uprising and prevented further damage by getting the final out, leaving the sacks full. The frame enabled the Cougars to erase a 4-1 deficit against Schubert to take a 6-4 lead. With Wert, a robust right-hander, shutting down Chesapeake with nothing but goose eggs over the final 3 innings, setting down the last five batters in succession, the Wildcats rung up a three-run 6th that chased Seidler to take the lead for good.
“We’re saying man after they got seven hits in a row (in the fourth) to take the lead and then we bring in Champ and he gets us out of the inning,” said Arundel coach Frank Hood. “He goes back out there and holds the fort and gets our guys pumped up. So, now we had to pick him up. It’s just contagious.
“His personality is kind of like that. He calls himself Cheddar Champ, right. He’s an excitable young man and that’s awesome.”
Senior shortstop Moises Aristy, a DeMatha transfer who went 3-for-4 with two RBI’s to lead Arundel, doubled in the tying run after Matt Hagemann (2-for-4, 2 RBI’s) had singled in the first run in the sixth. A fielder’s choice by designated hitter Pat Mason pushed Hagemann across with what would be the winning run off junior reliever Colby Buckheit.
“I like the intensity here (at Arundel, transferred in his senior year with his brother Noel, the junior center-fielder and cleanup batter) and the way these guys are team players who want to help each other,” said Aristy, who will play at Catonsville CCBC next year. “I trust my coaches here. Love it here and their philosophies. We took advantage of mistakes today and that’s why we won.”
Buckheit, who would suffer the loss, moved from second base to the mound for Seidler and there were no outs and two Cats aboard. A topped ball in front of the plate helped Dominic Bromante reach and Seidler then gave up his fourth walk of the game to No. 9 batter Eric Maydag. Cougar coach Ken King then removed Seidler who had thrown 107 pitches. Seidler threw 39 pitches in the second inning.
“Nobody can win when you do that (five errors) and our pitcher (Seidler) was throwing an extra 25 to 30 pitches and maxing out in the fifth inning when normally he’s getting through seven with 85 to 90 (pitches),” said coach King.
“It put us in a hole and it happened so fast (6th inning) and we couldn’t get Buck (Buckheit) warmed up fast enough. Joe had a nice middle of the game (3 scoreless innings, 2 hits, 4 of his 5 K’s).”
Wert’s line was 3-1/3 innings, two hits, two strikeouts and no walks to improve his personal record to 3-1.
“Everyone was certain we were going to come back,” said Wert. “It seems like every time I go in the guys get me runs and I do my thing. I’m used to cleaning up messes. I’m just comfortable (putting out fires), I love the attention and the chippiness. Can’t beat it.”
Arundel fans say, “a little more cheddar please.”
NO. 9 ARUNDEL 7, NO. 4 CHESAPEAKE-AA 6
ARUNDEL (8-2, 5-1) 040 003 0 – 7 7 2
CHESAPEAKE-AA (6-3, 4-3) 010 500 0 – 6 12 5
Will Schubert, Champ Wert (4) and EJ Santana; Joe Seidler, Colby Buckheit (6) and Tyler Shadle.
2B: C-Dylan Young; A-Santana, Moises Aristy.