ABERDEEN, Md. — For most of Friday’s Maryland 4A baseball state final, Scott Mitchell seemed untouchable, his pitching arsenal as overpowering as it was elusive for the opposition. But as the seventh inning wore on at Ripken Stadium, the South River senior pitcher came upon one force he couldn’t shake — his emotions.
Two years ago, a heart issue nearly ended his playing career and two weeks ago, he found out that Seahawks Coach Ken Dunn was retiring at season’s end, making for raw memories that fueled his game-closing strikeout and the wild celebration that followed a 6-0 victory over Catonsville.
The win secured South River’s first state title in school history and capped another impressive outing for Mitchell, who finished with nine strikeouts in a two-hitter while recording two hits and two RBI at the plate.
“I was trying to strike him out, and I knew where I wanted to put that last pitch,” Mitchell said. “That’s the most fun I’ve had playing baseball. Everything was just unfolding in front of my eyes and I started to feel emotional. We worked so hard for this.”
While Mitchell did the heavy lifting on the mound, retiring 15 of the first 17 Catonsville batters, the Seahawks’ bats seized their opportunities at the plate. Conner Cox brought home the first run on an RBI double in the third. One inning later, a fielding error by Catonsville allowed Jake Gratz to score. On the next at-bat, Kyle Canavan’s sacrifice fly gave Nick Raimondo enough time to cross home plate and make the score 3-0, South River.
Raimondo also came through defensively, making an impressive diving catch that helped keep the Comets hitless until the sixth inning. By then, the Seahawks had built a 6-0 lead behind a Brody Raimondo RBI single and a two-run double by Mitchell.
After Scott Beautz broke up Mitchell’s no-hitter in the sixth, the Comets threatened with runners in scoring position. But Mitchell eliminated any potential Catonsville momentum with a strikeout and then induced a groundout.
“It’s the same thing he’s been doing all four years here,” Seahawks senior Gabe Vertucci said. “It seems like he never has a bad game and he always comes up big for us.”
As Mitchell celebrated what would be the final big game of his career, he continually shot praise and smiles at Dunn, the coach who had shown enough confidence to start Mitchell and three other freshmen four years ago.
“It was a great ride and I wouldn’t change it for anything. But congratulate the kids. They did it all,” Dunn said.