ABERDEEN, Md. — Drew Spinnenweber admits he might have dozed off in one of his classes Friday afternoon. And as the team bus left Chesapeake bound for Ripken Stadium, the senior sat in the back, relaxed and at ease.
It’s not that Spinnenweber wasn’t excited for the Maryland 4A state championship against Sherwood, or ecstatic to take the ball in the school’s first appearance in the title game since 2010. He was. He just doesn’t always show it.
Spinnenweber carries a cool demeanor everywhere he goes, and it served him well Friday night in Aberdeen. The senior wiggled out of jams in the first and fifth innings, struck out 13 batters and scored one of the game’s only two runs as Chesapeake edged Sherwood, 2-0. The Cougars’ pitching staff ended the season with 32 consecutive scoreless innings, with Spinnenweber front and center.
“I was just calm throughout,” said Spinnenweber, who will attend a preparatory school in New Mexico next year and then plans to transfer to the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. “It’s just my demeanor. I don’t know. I get excited inside, but it might not show outside.”
Public schools in Anne Arundel County have won a combined 27 state baseball titles since 1975. This was No. 2 for the Cougars, their first since 1997. Coach Ken King was nearly two decades younger then and coaching baseball at Eastern Tech. Spinnenweber was 1 year old and likely crawling around in a living room somewhere.
The right-hander is naturally relaxed, but he learned how to stay calm in sports from his family. One of his sisters, Amanda, won a national championship with the Maryland lacrosse team in 2010, while another, Lynnea, played at UMBC. His eldest brother, John, played college baseball at St. Mary’s (Md.). And his father, also John, played college basketball at the University of Baltimore and later coached boys’ and girls’ hoops at Chesapeake for more than a decade.
“He’s a gamer,” King said of Drew, whom teammates call “Spin.” “If you look at his family history, everybody plays great athletics in that family. So he learned from some great people. And he wanted the ball. He just dominated out here today.”
When the first two at-bats of the game ended in an error and a walk, Spinnenweber didn’t flinch. After a sacrifice bunt put runners on second and third with one out, he struck out the next two batters looking.
He performed a similar act of escapism in the fifth, when a single and two walks loaded the bases with one out. Again, he struck out the next two batters and sauntered back to the dugout.
“He was spotting that breaking ball well,” Sherwood Coach Sean Davis said. “He had 12 or 13 strikeouts, so obviously he had good stuff tonight. The difference in the game was that he was able to wiggle out of some jams in the first and the fifth, and we weren’t able to wiggle out of that jam in the third.”
The jam in question began with who else: Spinnenweber. He blooped a double to left field before John Drexel was hit by a pitch. After a double steal, Towson commit Chris Ruszin ripped a single to drive in the game’s only two runs.
“We knew coming into this season, our pitching would keep us in any ballgame we were in,” Ruszin said. “If we can scrape one across, we’re good to go.”
Brady Adam had 15 strikeouts over six innings for Sherwood (15-8), but he was ultimately outdone by Spinnenweber, who also got some help in the seventh from his defense. With Chesapeake (23-2) two outs away from the title, Austin Weiss made a spectacular grab in foul territory, reaching his glove over the fence. The next batter grounded out to first baseman Chase Delost to end it.
The Cougars spilled out of the dugout and mobbed Spinnenweber on the mound. When the dogpile has cleared, they posed for a team picture in front of the dugout. Spinnenweber stood on his tiptoes in the very back, sneaking into the frame with a sheepish grin on his face. From start to finish, he was perfectly at ease.