For the second time in the last three seasons, Washington County has two representatives in the Maryland state baseball final four.
Weather permitting, North Hagerstown and Williamsport will make their bids for a state title berth at two separate locations tonight.
North Hagerstown (20-1-1) travels to Joe Cannon Stadium in Harmans, Md. for a battle against touted North Harford (22-2) in a Class 3A semifinal at 7 p.m. The winner will advance to the final at Cal Ripken Stadium on Saturday to meet the winner of the J.M. Bennett and LaPlata semifinal.
Williamsport and Loch Raven, each 13-9, meet at Blair High School in Montgomery County at 7 p.m. in a Class 2A battle.
The survivor will meet the winner of tonight’s Patterson Mill-Patuxent contest on Saturday in the final.
Saturday’s championship games are held at Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen, Md. The 2A final is at 4, followed by the 3A tilt.
“Obviously North Harford presents a tremendous challenge for us,” said North coach Drew Crawford. “They are by far the most talented club we will have faced all year.”
But don’t think the Hubs are quivering in their spikes because of the Hawks’ great record, or the fact they have some of the best pitching around.
North Harford’s pitching ace is Kevin Mooney, who sports a 0.27 earned run average with 96 strikeouts in 51 innings, while allowing two earned runs all season.
“At the same time we know that if we play up to our capabilities there is noone better than us, so it’s not really us vs. them, it’s us vs. ourselves,” Crawford said. “We know Mooney is one of the best pitchers in the state, but we have a pretty good No. 1 ourself in (J.T.) Root. It certainly will be a challenge but I’m confident our guys will rise up.”
Root has an 8-0 record with a 2.22 ERA.
Junior Andrew Yacyk was on a tear last week with four home runs in three games and now has 11 to go along with his state-record 51 RBIs and an ever-climbing .473 batting average.
Philip Pietro leads the Hubs at .533 and three other regulars — Matt Daley, Charles Cvijanovich and Zane Schreiber — are above .400.
At Williamsport, one look at team statistics shows the Wildcats are batting less than .300 as a team and have an team earned run average approaching 5.
With injuries, early off-the-field problems and the car accident that took the life of ace pitcher Brendon Colliflower, the Wildcats would not have been the odds-on choice to escape the 2A West Region.
“It’s been an emotional two weeks,” said coach David Warrenfelz. “Even in our best moments there are still sad moments. After a win we’ve been excited to move on, but again we still wish Brendon would have been here, to give him a hug and to see him in the team picture.”
Just hours after the Colliflower funeral service, Williamsport’s players stepped onto the field and beat Wheaton, followed with wins over Liberty, South Carroll and Century.
“We’ve constantly been there for each other,” said Warrenfeltz. “Now we’re playing for bigger things than for ourselves. We’re playing for so much more.”
This is Williamsport’s second straight visit to the semifinals, losing 12-2 last year in a Class 1A game to eventual state champion St. Michael’s.
“This year we’ll know what it’s like to be on the bigger stage, the first pitch, the cameras on the field,” said Warrenfeltz.
Tyler Nally leads the Wildcats in batting at .462 and Zach Lucas is hitting .430. Otherwise, no Wildcat regular is hitting above .327.
Notes: North Hagerstown is making its seventh appearance in the states and has won titles in 1986, 1989 and 2010. ... Williamsport is making its 11th appearance with its only title coming in 1975 in Class B.
Prep Baseball: Hubs, 'Cats make bids for state final berths
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