In each of the last two seasons, two things have been true for the Severna Park varsity baseball team. They reached the state finals both times. And both times, Sherwood ended the Falcons’ season.
Something had to give in Tuesday’s Class 4A state semifinal between No. 2 Sherwood and No. 3 Severna Park at Shirley Povich Field in Rockville. One of those streaks had to end.
Unfortunately for the Falcons, the Warriors continued to win, this time by a 9-2 margin as the Falcons made a flurry of uncharacteristic mistakes.
“We have not faced many lefties this year and he was pretty tough,” said Severna Park varsity baseball head coach Eric Milton. “We made mistakes. You can’t do it in a game like this against a real good team. We made mistakes on the bases and defensively and they took advantage.”
After the top of the first inning, it looked like this year’s result might be different. Kody Phillips led off the game by going first-pitch swinging and reaching on a single. Sherwood quickly got two outs, but Seamus Patenaude came up to bat and recorded an RBI double to put Severna Park ahead 1-0.
That was the last lead the Falcons held all game.
Sherwood’s Ryan Bouma got a one-out walk in the bottom of the first, and Amari Allen smoked a pitch to right field to tie the game 1-1. Ryan Rey then hit a single to put the Warriors ahead 2-1 before Severna Park pitcher Sean Williams got the next two batters to flyout and groundout.
Ethan Rodriguez drew a one-out walk in the second. Cue Severna Park baserunning mistake. They got doubled up on a flyball to center to end the inning.
Williams had a strong second inning, forcing three flyouts for the Falcons, who came out aggressive in the third inning. Angel Santiago-Cruz slapped a two-out single through the infield, advancing a Severna Park runner to second, and then Patenaude hit a ball toward the third baseman, who bobbled it, allowing Patenaude to beat the throw to first and load the bases with two outs.
Cue another Severna Park baserunning mistake. As the Sherwood catcher covered a pitch that hit the dirt, the runner on third base started toward home and was picked off. Severna Park left the bases loaded.
The game snowballed out of the Falcons’ control from there, as a Sherwood double to centerfield pushed the Warriors’ lead to 4-1 in the bottom of the third. Even with Matt Fleisher mashing a pitch over the right-field fence for a solo home run, Sherwood did not get rattled. The Warriors brought in Brian Scott to pitch, and he induced a double play, and following a walk, collected a strikeout to end the inning.
In the fourth inning, Gavin Hughes reached base on an infield single and was replaced with a pinch runner. Cue more Severna Park mistakes as the runner advanced to second and then scored on a Jacob Bagania single. Scott batted next and hit an RBI single, stole second base and then reached third on an errant throw to second. Another single, this time by Bouma, plated Scott. The Warriors led 7-3.
While Severna Park struggled to make big plays, Sherwood had their share of big moments. Allen robbed Fleisher of a three-run home run that nearly cleared the right-field fence in the fifth inning.
“That one play, that Matt Fleisher hit to the fence and Amari Allen making a good catch, that could have scored us two runs there and given us some momentum,” Santiago-Cruz said after the game.
The Sherwood outfielder also made a diving catch in the sixth to deprive Brooks Harris of a hit.
Those plays, along with the timely hits, helped Sherwood cement the win and another Class 4A championship appearance.
Even though Sherwood has ended Severna Park’s season three consecutive years, the Falcons don’t feel like the Warriors got in their heads.
“Whether we’re playing Vanderbilt or we’re playing a Little League team, it’s just another game,” Patenaude said. “Those guys on the other side of the field have to make the same plays we do. You go into it expecting to come out on top. Sometimes it doesn’t.”
Milton agreed, reflecting on the mistakes that cost his team.
“We had the talent to get it done and we just didn’t get it done today,” he said.