ABERDEEN, Md. — Because this year’s group of Huntingtown baseball players had never won a playoff game before this spring, the Hurricanes entered every contest leading up to Monday’s Maryland 3A state final with few expectations, leaving nothing to chance and nothing out of the question.
In the Hurricanes’ mind, no lead or deficit was safe. That’s why even as Chesapeake, up two runs in the top of the seventh inning, had whittled Huntingtown to its last two outs, Hurricanes Coach Guy Smith never strayed from his simple mantra: Stay together and have fun.
Huntingtown’s cohesion showed in those moments, with runners zooming around the bases on sacrifice bunts and steal attempts during a four-run seventh that rallied the Hurricanes to a 4-3 victory and the Maryland 3A state championship at Ripken Stadium. What served as another comeback win for Huntingtown (21-4) yielded the first baseball title for a Calvert County team.
“There was definitely some scary moments and a lot of nervous guys in the dugout in that last inning,” senior Brandyn Vogtsberger said. “But we’ve pulled out games like this all year, and once Andrew [Pawlowski] got on base, I knew we were going to win.”
Ask Vogtsberger’s teammates, however, and they would say their faith received a boost when their ace took the mound in the third inning. After throwing nine innings in Huntingtown’s narrow semifinal victory Wednesday, Vogtsberger could throw no more than five innings Monday, per Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association rules.
The right-hander took the mound in the third for Tyler Livingston , who allowed just two Chesapeake hits but also two runs on a passed ball and RBI single by Pat Goralski. Vogtsberger allowed just one hit in relief and struck out four against the Cougars (22-4).
But Chesapeake’s Joe Seidler proved just as effective. The sophomore, unbeaten in 11 decisions, allowed just two hits through six innings. When the Hurricanes did get on base, Smith encouraged them to be aggressive.
The strategy paid off once Pawlowski and Danny Goucher walked to start the seventh. A throwing error on a sacrifice bunt allowed Pawlowski to score. Though Goucher was thrown out attempting to steal home, that positioned a runner to score on Jack Morales’s single on the next at-bat to tie the score at 2.
Morales scored the go-ahead run on an RBI single by Eddie Harris that dribbled just out of the reach of Chesapeake’s infdielders. Then, on a double steal with two outs, Harris eluded the Cougars to allow Devaughn Reid to race home for what served as the decisive run.
“All season we’ve faced good pitchers, so we knew it’s not always about power but just little shots to get us on base and we can work from there,” Harris said. “Part of me can’t believe what just happened, but this is more than a team; we’re a family. And we came together again tonight.”