Eleanor Roosevelt sophomore pitcher Clark Reese found himself in deep trouble in the third inning of Wednesday’s Maryland 4A South Section II final against Bowie. Reese knew even the slightest bounce could change the entire complexion of this heated rivalry, and he watched the Bulldogs load the bases after collecting a walk and two infield hits.
The Raiders held a three-run lead at the time, and Reese wasn’t going to chance another spell with two outs. So he threw the ball as hard as he could against the next batter. With each strike the tension rose, and when the Bowie batter struck out swinging, Raiders’ catcher Robert Nicol jumped into the air in celebration. Reese remained stoic, walking back to the dugout.
Roosevelt’s young roster may be a sign that the team is a year or two away from making a serious postseason run, but the poise of Reese put the notion to rest on Wednesday. The crafty southpaw struck out seven, added a key RBI double in the seventh inning and the Raiders produced 15 hits to hold off Bowie, 10-8, and earn a return trip to the Maryland 4A South region final.
“I just knew in my mind I had to step up and throw strikes,” Reese said, “and it happened.”
Junior Jamiah Williams added three hits and four runs for the Raiders (16-3), who will meet Laurel — a 20-3 winner over DuVal — in Friday’s 4A South title game..
It was just a year ago that Roosevelt took down Bowie in the region final on its own field. Despite a roster that features as many sophomores (six) as seniors, the Raiders vowed to do it again Wednesday, just five weeks after the Bulldogs (20-3) handed them a humbling 12-4 loss. Roosevelt controlled from the first pitch on, thanks in large part to the steadiness of Reese, and the Raiders took a 6-1 lead in the fifth inning sparked by an infield single by senior outfielder Craig Farmer.
After Reese struck out two batters in the fifth to get out of another jam, Farmer and junior Quinn Valentich added RBIs in the sixth to push the Raiders’ lead to 9-3. Bowie made its move the next inning after Reese left the game.
“The nerves were pumping a little bit,” Reese said. “But I have confidence in my team.”
Two Roosevelt relievers walked two runs in after loading the bases, and with no outs and the lead cut to 9-5, the Raiders turned to another sophomore, Jacob Burns, to craft their escape. Burns struck out all three batters he faced, and although the Bulldogs made it interesting with a three-run double by Matt Phillips in the bottom of the seventh, it never had enough to get over the top.
“We seemed a little tense last time [playing Bowie]. We came up there confident,” Williams said. “It’s such a big rivalry. Roosevelt and Bowie have been at for like, a whole bunch of years. This time we came out on top during the playoffs, where it matters.”
Elsewhere, Sherwood defeated host Paint Branch, 6-1, to advance to a 4A North region final Friday at Perry Hall. Gaithersburg topped Wootton, 7-3, in the 4A West region semifinals and will host the winner of the late game between Blair and Whitman. In the 4A East region, Chesapeake blanked Severna Park, 6-0, and North Point edged South River, 3-1, to set up Friday’s region final in Pasadena. . . .
In the 3A East region semifinals, Reservoir knocked off No. 7 Atholton, 5-0, and Mount Hebron topped Long Reach, 7-3. Seneca Valley beat Damascus, 5-1, to advance to Friday’s 3A West final at Thomas Johnson and No. 8 La Plata earned a spot in the 3A South final against Stephen Decatur with an 11-2 rout of Thomas Stone. . . .
In 2A playoff action, third-ranked Poolesville blew past Liberty, 11-1, to advance to a 4A West region final matchup with Middletown. Calvert, which edged Marriotts Ridge, 3-2, will host Southern, an 18-0 winner at Gwynn Park, in the 2A South region final.