Severna Park High seniors Brooks Harris and Nathan Clarke made huge contributions to the host Falcons’ 6-4 victory over Montgomery County’s Walter Whitman in a Class 4A state quarterfinal on Friday.
Severna Park will play Tuesday in the state semis at Povich Field in Montgomery County against the winner of Saturday’s 4A quarterfinal featuring Perry Hall at defending state champ Sherwood from Montgomery County.
“It was one of the best high school baseball games I’ve ever seen or been a part of,” Severna Park coach Eric Milton. “We had great play and pitching, respectful kids and coaches. It was a lot of fun and I certainly was glad to be part of it. That was a great ball club we beat today.”
Harris doubled in the tying run (4-4) in the fifth inning and his sacrifice fly in the bottom of the sixth produced a big insurance run for the Falcons (20-3) to help seal the victory for Clarke, whose competitiveness the Falcons needed Friday.
Before Whitman, the Falcons had to get by Leonardtown of St. Mary’s County (10-4) and South River (4-3). Clarke relieved in both games and the Severna Park workhorse went as far as he was allowed against Whitman, per state pitch count rules.
Ethan Rodriguez struck out the last batter after Clarke got the first two Vikings on a strike out and a ground ball.
“Nathan was our MVP today, Most Valuable pitcher,” said Milton. “He relieved in those two games against Leonardtown and South River to get us here. He had been a reliefer for us most of the season but we lost one of our starters in Seamus (Patenaude) and Nathan was more than eager to start for us today.”
In his six and 2/3 innings, Clarke did not walk a batter, struck out 8 and masterfully scattered seven hits.
“I felt great and confident out there,” said Clarke. “I was throwing mostly sinkers and sliders. I started with a good sinker, but as the game went on, I started using my slider more. I just did my thing. We knew they had a good ball club and they could score runs.
The Falcons scored first in the second frame on knock by Rodriguez and a subsequent error. Whitman (16-5) would take a 2-1 lead on a two-run dong by third baseman Mitchell Hwang in the top of the third, but the Falcons would tie it up at 2 in the bottom half on a one-base knock by Patenaude.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Falcons took a 4-2 lead as Angel Santiago Cruz scored on a wild pitch with Matt Fleisher batting. Fleisher would then single and race home on two-base knock by the righthand hitting Harris off the Vikings’ Lion Gardner. Gardner gave the visitors four and 1/3 good innings punching out 8 and yielding five hits.
Whitman came right back to deadlock the score at four in the top of the sixth on a two-bagger by Gideon Schwartz and a sacrifice fly by catcher Ethan Murley. The Falcons were determined and wouldn’t settle for a tie.
Catcher Kody Phillips led off the bottom of the sixth for Severna Park by drawing a base on balls and several pitches later would dash home on a wild pitch for a 5-4 lead. Harris would then deliver a sacrifice fly to center to give the Falcons a solid 6-4 lead.
“Those were definitely energetic moments,”said Harris, who was named after former Orioles’ Hall of Fame third basemen Brooks Robinson.
Walt Whitman coach Joe Cassidsaid his guys knew “it would be a challenge, Severna Park has a great tradition. One our seniors said it best that you can’t make mistakes against a team like that.”
Class 4A state quarterfinal
NO. 5 SEVERNA PARK 6, WALT WHITMAN 4
WHITMAN 002 002 0 - 4 7 2
SEVERNA PARK 011 022 x - 6 7 0
Lion Gardner, Sammy Berman (5), Liam Bowen (6) and Ethan Murley; Nathan Clarke, Ethan Rodriguez (7) and Kody Phillips
2B: Whitman - John Layman, Massimo Liuzzo, Gideon Schwartz; Severna Park = Brooks Harris
HR - Mitchell Hwang