If Tuesday’s Glenelg vs. River Hill game is any indication the Howard County baseball race is shaping up to be quite an adventure.
Nearly half the teams figure to stay in it including the defending Class 2A state champ and No. 6 Gladiators who used a 6-run sixth inning rally and held on for an 8-7 victory over the 10th-ranked Hawks in sunny Clarksville.
Glenelg returned 7 of 9 starters and 9 seniors, but likely have lost their ace for the season in Zach Lafountain. The latter lacerated his spleen last week.
“We may have lost Zach for the season,” said Tiffany, a Glenelg alum. “But our guys push on and they faced a quality pitcher today and came away with a win.”
Gladiators senior centerfielder DJ Stolba’s solo shot to left-center in the top of the sixth frame tied the contest at five and RBI two-baggers from Danny Dorsey and Josh Hull made it 7-5. Junior second baseman Logan Pusheck got a heater right down the gut on a 2-0 count and cracked a knock to left that scored the run that would prove to be the game winner.
“It was personal to beat them today,” said Stolba, who had 2 hits and 3 rbi on the afternoon – the other two RBI on a single and sacrifice fly. “I was looking to square one up and got a fast ball right down the middle. It felt really good, was my first of the season. I’ve been struggling and maybe this will get me going.
“They smoked us 12-0 last year at our place, so we got it back today and we beat their ace, a really good pitcher.”
The Gladiators (6-2 overall, 5-1 Howard) chased River Hill’s Duke University-bound southpaw Henry Zatkowski (1-1) in the decisive sixth with one out. Zatkowski, last spring’s Howard County Pitcher of the Year, had notched a season opening win by 11-0 over Fallston in five innings last week on a one-hitter with a 12 strikeouts.
“It just wasn’t my day today, but I lost to a really good ball club,” said a dejected Zatkowski, who fanned 11 Tuesday.
When Tuesday started Howard County had four ball clubs that had just one loss in Glenelg (4-1), Marriotts Ridge (4-1), Centennial (4-1) with Reservoir at 3-1, and defending league champ River Hill (3-2). All five squads in the 12-team HoCo circuit are ranked in this week’s Baltimore Banner/VSN Top 15 poll.
“The way it’s going, anybody can beat anybody, and I think the champion is going to have four or five losses this year,” said Hawks coach Craig Estrin. “We didn’t get any clutch hits today.”
The Hawks (6-2, 3-3 Howard) left two- on-base in the fourth but tallied a pair in the sixth innings before leaving the sacks full (had with one out) in their last at-bat. Leftfielder Eje Okojie, one of the metro area’s
top all-around players, ripped a two-run dinger in the bottom of the second to give the Hawks a 5-2 lead.
They proceeded to leave the bases full for the first of two times.
Alfonse Dello-Russo started for Glenelg and was replaced by Landon Castor in the third and the latter went through the sixth. Sophomore Nick Bilotto came on to close out in the seventh notching a save for Castor.
“There are no easy games in this league this season,” said Pusheck.
NO. 6 GLENELG 8, NO. 10 RIVER HILL 7
Glenelg 202 004 0 - 8
River Hill 320 002 0 - 7