It was a classic baseball duel at North County High Wednesday.
In a well pitched and played game that was recorded in just 74 minutes, North County’s Thor Hildebrand and Samuel Ross from Crofton each hurled a one-hitter with each firing less than 100 pitches.
Hildebrand reached on an infield hit in the second inning for the Knights’ only knock in the game. Hildebrand, who bats cleanup, would race home on Kevin Santos’ sac fly to center after moving to third on an errant throw for what would be the crucial tally in a must-win for the 10th-ranked Knights.
The Ferndale school posted a key 1-0 victory over upstart Crofton to keep its hopes alive for an appearance in next week’s Anne Arundel County championship game.
North County’s players most certainly would please their hospitalized coach Wayne Feuerherd. The Knights’ 45-year old coach has been at the University of Maryland Hospital in Baltimore since March for a heart condition. He’s been keeping up on his players mainly through communications with his longtime third base coach Tweety Barton, who’s been serving as the Knights’ interim coach.
“The entire situation with Wayne was quite a surprise and we just want to see him get well and get out of the hospital,” said Barton who was teammates with Feuerherd at North County.
Barton was sure that Feuerherd would be very happy with Wednesday’s result that left the Knights at 17-2 overall and 9-2 in Anne Arundel play. North County is a half-game behind No. 2 Severna Park (10-2), which completed league play (final 12 games vs. league opponents count in Anne Arundel standings) with a 7-5 decision at Arundel Wednesday. No. 3 Broadneck has the top spot in the standings at 10-1. The top two teams will play for the Anne Arundel crown, Tuesday evening at Joe Cannon Stadium.
The best case scenario for North County to reach the county final would be a victory Friday over Northeast and a loss by Broadneck at South River. That would create a three-way tie for first, and a tiebreaker to decide the two teams for the county final
Broadneck can clinch the regular season title and championship final berth with a victory Friday at South River.
Barton fears the Knights will be left out.
“At this point, it doesn’t look good for us and we absolutely had to win today and Thor came through for us,” said Barton.
Hildebrand proudly showed wrist bands the players wear along with black undershirts that are emblazoned with Feuerherd’s No. 34 on the back to honor their coach.
“Yes, we have dedicated the season to him and know how badly he would like to be here,” said the 6-foot-4, 180-pound senior righthander who raised his record to 6-1.
Hildebrand retired the first 10 Cardinals (11-8, 6-5 Anne Arundel) he faced before junior Zach Leinemann singled to center and the latter would be caught stealing by Knights’ catcher Kyle Lowman. Hildebrand escaped a bases loaded jam in the top of the sixth when he walked two of his three batters for the game. A fielder’s choice ended the threat on a close play at second base.
Hildebrand fired 83 pitches, walked three and struck out three yielding only the one hit.
“I used my two-seamer and change-up the most today,” said Hildebrand, who will pitch and play third base at Shepherd University. “When I walked the three in the fifth and sixth innings, I was getting a little tired. I usually have pretty good control.”
Ross, also a senior righthander, suffered his first loss (5-1 with a save). He used 80 pitches for his one-hitter that featured 8 strikeouts, a walk and a hit-batter.
“Samuel has only given up 5 runs in 38 innings and has pitched really well for us this season,” said Cardinals’ coach Brooks Miller, a 2009 Arundel grad who was a pitcher and corner infielder on legendary coach Bernie Walter’s final team. “We’re young but we are 11-8 after winning only seven games in our first season last year.”
NO. 10 NORTH COUNTY 1, CROFTON 0
Crofton 000 000 0 - 0 1 3
North County 010 000 x - 1 1 1
Samuel Ross and William White; Thor Hildebrand and Kyle Lowman