FREDERICK, MD., JUNE 6 -- His physical preparation was ideal -- working hard early in the week, throwing easy on Thursday, taking Friday off. And for North East's Ken Loudermilk, the mental preparation was perfect as well.
"All week I just kept telling myself to throw strikes and keep the ball down," Loudermilk said after he led North East (Cecil County) to a 9-0 victory over Great Mills at McCurdy Field today for the Maryland state B high school baseball championship.
"If you put runners on base, they turn into runs, so I just kept throwing strikes. My fastball gets better as the game gets going, and I used my curve to keep them off balance."
Great Mills (18-4) wasn't just off balance, it was stumbling. Loudermilk, who entered the game 9-1 with a 1.48 earned run average, dominated the Hornets, allowing five hits, striking out nine and walking two. No Hornet reached third base.
Loudermilk's teammates provided plenty of offense, too. The Indians' 10 hits, seven walks and six steals were more than enough for Loudermilk. The Indians (20-1) got only two extra-base hits, both by third baseman Bob Reynolds, who homered in the fourth and doubled in the seventh.
"We're basically a line-drive hitting team," said Rick Lake, who had four hits and two RBI. "We expect to hit the ball and we did it. Since March 1, we've wanted to be here. The seniors were on a mission to get the recognition that they deserve."
Perhaps experience was North East's greatest advantage. This was the Indians' third straight championship appearance; they defeated Chesapeake in 1985 and lost to Pikesville last year. In those three years, the Indians have compiled a 55-7 record.
North East's Mike Gomez began the game wih a single up the middle. He stole second, advanced to third on a dropped third strike, and raced home on a wild pitch. After two walks, Kevan Browne singled to left, scoring Dan Hammer and Reynolds. Lake's ensuing seeing-eye single up the middle scored Steve Kennedy for a 4-0 lead.
Reynolds opened the third with his home run to deep center, and a four-run fourth closed out the scoring.
Great Mills had come from behind to win eight games this year. But today, it was not to be.
"Around the fifth inning our heads were hanging, and I began to wonder myself," Jimmy Sandwisch said. "We just didn"t make the plays in the field that we needed to."