Sean Murphy said that he “was definitely humbled” in the early going of Tuesday evening’s Anne Arundel County baseball title game.
The senior pitcher regrouped, leading No. 2 ranked Broadneck to a 1-0 victory over ninth-ranked North County at Joe Cannon Stadium for the Cape St. Claire school’s first league championship.
Sophomore second baseman Kobe Owen’s two-out infield hit in the bottom of the fourth scored Noah Foreman with the game’s lone run for the Bruins (18-3 overall), and Murphy went on to notch his 19th (19-4) career win in his three varsity seasons.
Murphy, a righthander walked Knights’ leadoff batter and catcher Kyle Lowman on four pitches and according to coach Matt Skrenchuk appeared “to be a little nervous when he went out there.”
He proceeded to strike out a batter and then got a fly out for two down, but Murphy did not appear to be himself throwing high pitches and then with two gone, plucked the Knights’ cleanup batter and starting pitcher Thor Hildebrand.
With two on and two down, Murphy coaxed Andrew Myers into grounding to Bruins’ first baseman Devin McGowan to end the inning. After Hildebrand sandwiched a pair of pop ups to sure handed shortstop Kevin Santos between base knocks by Mike Swick and catcher Nick Cicale, Hildebrand got DH Gavin Cook to fly to left for the third out.
Murphy returned to the bump for the second frame and got Santos to ground to third. Andrew Webb then rifled a shot up the middle off Murphy’s throwing hand and the ball sailed into foul territory on the third base side. The coaches checked Murphy and he was okay and got the next two batters.
“It’s funny, but after I got hit on the hand, I seemed to get it together,’’ said Murphy. “I throwing my fast ball up and getting behind on the hitters, didn’t have much control at the beginning. But after getting hit on the hand, things got better.”
Hildebrand retired the Bruins in order in their half of the second. Each team’s leadoff man would follow with a single in the third, Lowman for the Knights and Swick for the Bruins (18-3), but neither scored as it remained 0-0.
After the Knights (18-3) went down without a run in the top of the fourth, Broadneck would break the ice on Owen’s two-out knock. Foreman roped a single to center with two outs and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Then on a 2-2 Owen pitch rapped a shot off the glove of a diving Andrew Myers at first and Foreman raced home to make it 1-0 Broadneck.
“My approach was to hit it to the opposite field,”said the righthanded swinging Owen. “It was so exciting when Noah scored.”
Murphy, who is headed to Catholic University, retired eight Knights in a row from the last two in the fourth through the sixth, but would run into big trouble in North County’s final at-bat in the game as the well played contest would end on a strikeout with the bases loaded.
An infield hit on a topped ball in front of the plate, the game’s only error and an intentional walk to one of the Knights’ top batters in Lowman loaded the bases with two outs.
Murphy’s four-hit complete game on 93 pitches featured four strikeouts, one walk, one hit-by-pitch and one intentional walk.
“Sean had really settled down after the start of the game, and I had confidence he would get it done,” said Skrenchuk, in his sixth season and had four sophomores starting Tuesday in third baseman/pitcher Foreman, Owen, rightfielder Swick and catcher Cicale and junior shortstop Cook. “He’s a seasoned pitcher, was expected to start this big game and he really settled in.This feels really good for me being the coach of the first county baseball championship team at Broadneck. I’m really proud of these guys. This is a young team with a good mix of seniors.”
ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY CHAMPIONSHIP
at Joe Cannon Stadium
NO. 2 BROADNECK 1, NO. 9 NORTH COUNTY 0
NORTH COUNTY 000 000 0 - 0 4 0
BROADNECK 000 100 X - 1 6 1
Thor Hildebrand, Mason Henry (5) and Kyle Lowman; Sean Murphy and Nick Cicale