Keith Norris' pinch-hit single with two out in the bottom of the seventh scored Andy Redmond with the winning run as Leonardtown (15-6) erased a 5-1 deficit and defeated Overlea, 6-5, in the state semifinals at Essex Community College.
Norris, a high-.200s hitter, lined an 0-2 fastball to right field; Ken Breeden's throw to the plate was in time, but high.
Wayne Gray and Shawn Knott fueled Leonardtown's comeback. Gray (5-3, 1.80 earned run average) came in to pitch for Redmond in the fourth inning with Overlea ahead, 5-4, and proceeded to retire 12 of 13 batters, allowing only a leadoff walk to Breeden in the seventh.
"I was mostly using my fastball, because they couldn't touch it," Gray said. "I've been pitching pretty good of late. I don't like the cold weather, but when it gets hot I can really throw it."
Knott was Leonardtown's starting pitcher, but gave up four walks and two runs in the first and was moved to left field. He made amends for his pitching woes with a three-run home run in the third and a run-scoring double in the fifth that tied the score.
"Both hits were shoulder-high fastballs," Knott said. "Since the last game of the season, I've been hitting the ball much more solidly. I'm not worried about my stance anymore. I'm just trying to hit the ball hard."
Overlea (14-7) scored three in the first, on five walks and one hit. It got its last two in the second on Breeden's single, pitcher Brian Singer's double, and Tony Elgin's single.
Singer entered the game with two three-hitters in the last week, but, having gone the full seven innings in both games, his velocity dropped off considerably in the late innings.
"Also, he has allergies and it's tough for him to breathe in the humidity," Overlea Coach Doug Eisenhauer said. "But I had no thoughts of replacing him going into the seventh."
In the first game, Chesapeake (16-6-1) scored seven runs in the top of the sixth to turn a 3-0 deficit into a 7-3 lead and went on to win, 9-3, over Fort Hill (16-5).
The key play came when Fort Hill pitcher Dave Deter, who had pitched five scoreless innings, pulled a hamstring while batting in the bottom of the fifth. Troy Todd replaced Deter on the mound and proceeded to allow all nine runs, five of which were unearned.
Bob Bianco (5-2, 1.70 ERA) got the win for Chesapeake, as he entered the game with two outs in the fifth and held Fort Hill scoreless.
In the sixth, with Fort Hill ahead, 3-2, and none out, Chesapeake's Mike Reid grounded to second, but the ball was bobbled by Don Strain, allowing Andy McLay to score from third and tie the game. The next batter, John Ferguson, doubled to right-center. Reid scored, giving Chesapeake a 4-3 lead.