Keith Fans 16 In No-Hitter As Falcons Soar To Memorable 7-0 Win Over Southern
Story and Photos by Peter Crispino
Call it revenge, or parity, or kismet, but the team that was no-hit twice in eight days last month finally saw the zeroes on the other half of the scoreboard. Severna Parks Bradley Keith stuck out 16 batters and allowed just three base runners in a 7-0, complete-game, no-hitter victory over Southern on April 28, lifting his team to 10-4 overall and 9-3 in the county heading into the final four games of the regular season.
Those two no-hitters didnt sit well with us, Coach Bob Felts said of his Falcons, who were no-hit on April 16 by Brandon OMalley and Jon Powell of Northeast and then again by Old Mills Josh Hader on April 23. Bradley came out and was outstanding today. He kept them off-balance all afternoon. It was a great pitching performance.
Keith turned in a performance even better than those of OMalley, Powell, and Hader. All afternoon Keith hammered the strike zone, walking just two batters in a near-perfect game. The 62 righty headed to Maryland struck out eight of the first nine batters he faced, threw his blistering fastball with accuracy, and kept hitters guessing with a powerful slider and a devastating 12-to-6 curveball.
It was definitely the best game Ive ever had, Keith said. The slider and the curve kept them off balance which is what I really needed. I wouldnt throw either one twice in a row, which kept them guessing because they had two different looks coming in. I felt good from the start of the school day and just came out rolling, all of us did.
With only six balls put in play all afternoon, the Falcon defense was rarely tested, but they responded flawlessly when called into action. The biggest play came on a screaming groundball up the middle in the bottom of the fifth. Second baseman Grant Millenburg slid towards second and stabbed the ball then fired a one-hop bullet to Rhyan Karr, who made a terrific scoop and stretch to narrowly beat the runner.
That was incredible, said Keith. We live for plays like that and Grant stepped up big for me right there. He knows how much that play meant to me and meant to the entire team.
From that point on, it was smooth sailing for the Falcons as Keith fanned five of the final seven Bulldogs he faced. After he induced a soft grounder to shortstop to end the game, Keith pointed to the sky with both hands before being mobbed by his teammates.
To cap off his afternoon, the junior pitcher went 2-for-3 at the plate with a run scored. Reid Kowalski went 2-for-2 with two steals and two runs and Jake Siefert added a pair of RBI singles. The Falcons looked to be on their way to another low-scoring game until a trio of pinch hitters put a spark in their offense in the sixth inning. Sam Lewis led off with a pinch-hit single, Nick Boushell knocked a two-run double, and Tim Nelson added an RBI single in a four-run inning. Pinch hitter Colin McCarthy smashed an RBI double in the top of the seventh to cap off the scoring.
The Falcons hitting has been feast-or-famine throughout the season. Seven times they have scored four runs or less (3-4 in those games) and six times they have scored nine or more (6-0).
Were like Jekyll and Hyde. Every game, a different team is coming out, said Felts. Weve only got two starters in the lineup from last yearBrandon Cavil and Bradley Keith. I keep getting upset with the performances, but Ive got to remember these guys need experience.
To a team with just two senior starters, every inning played is a learning experience and another step towards building a consistent unit. With four wins in their last five outings, Felts hopes his offense has started to come together at the right time of year.
In the past Severna Park has played their best at the end of the season and playoff time, he said. We have a tendency to get better every game. Thats something Coach McCandless taught us for a long time and I really believe in: play just a little bit better every game. Thats something were really working on.
The Falcons host Annapolis on May 4 then look to exact revenge on Arundel, who handed them a 10-4 loss earlier in year, in the regular-season finale on May 7 at Severna Park.
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