FREDERICK, MD., MAY 28 -- Jon Walsh drew a two-out, bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the seventh inning to give undefeated Paint Branch a dramatic 5-4 victory over Northern and the Maryland Class 3A championship today at McCurdy Field.
Walsh's walk came off a 3-2 pitch in the dirt from Northern starter Felbert Jones, and gave the Panthers a 20-0 mark and their third state title. Paint Branch also was 20-0 in 1979.
In earlier games, Allegany took the 2A title, 9-2, over Edgewood and Brunswick defeated Smithsburg, 3-0, for the 1A title.
Northern (18-6), which pushed across single runs in the fifth and sixth innings to tie the game at 4, put runners on first and second with two out in the seventh. Panthers freshman Ryan Lambert (10-0) then struck out Christian Wargo to end the inning.
Paint Branch, which didn't play many close games this season, got the winning run on base when leadoff batter Todd Horich singled sharply to left.
Horich stole second and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Steve Goodfriend. Todd Babbitt popped up for the second out.
Northern Coach Bruce Hutchison then decided to play the percentages and walk the next two batters to set up a force at any base.
"Walking the batters was my idea," Hutchison said. "We were trying to get through the heart of their lineup. They had a kid coming up who hadn't done anything. We took our chances and lost."
Walsh, who had struck out, flied out and walked in three previous at-bats, got behind in the count, 0-2. The catcher fouled off three pitches before Jones lost a bit of his control. The next three pitches were high for 3-2. Jones then threw into the dirt and Horich trotted home with the winning run.
Down by 2-0, the Panthers scored in the first and second to pull even at 2. In the third, the Montgomery County champions had a chance to break open the game but Horich, who walked to open the inning, was picked off second after a steal.
Jones then walked Babbitt and Dave Duggan. Dave Seidel singled home the go-ahead run, Duggan moving to third. Seidel was thrown out trying to steal but Jones surrendered his fourth walk of the inning, to Walsh. Steve Scott's single scored Duggan to make it 4-2.
"We played aggressive the entire game. I wasn't really worried when we were down in the first inning, it was too early to make a difference," said Paint Branch Coach Paul Fahrner.
Lambert wasn't especially sharp, allowing a walk and two singles for a run in the third, and a walk and two singles in the sixth as the Patriots pulled even at 4.
Allegany (17-5) took advantage of five Edgewood (15-7) errors and a clutch pitching performance by Jason Niner to win the Class 2A championship.
Brunswick junior Joey Lucas allowed three hits and struck out 11 in his shutout over Smithsburg in the Class 1A title game. Lucas also had an RBI in the first inning as the Railroaders (18-4) scored twice .