ABERDEEN, Md. — From the bottom of the dogpile, Cooper Myers-Mallinger realized he was living out his dream. It was 12:12 a.m. Sunday, and the Poolesville senior had just recorded the final out of a 4-3 win over Chesapeake to secure the first state championship in program history.
From the moment he woke up Saturday, Myers-Mallinger said he felt like something special was going to happen. The feeling persisted through a three-hour delay that pushed the start of the Maryland 3A championship game to 10 p.m., and it carried over to the start of the seventh inning when he toed the rubber with his No. 9 Falcons leading the No. 7 Cougars by a run.
But then the Cougars rallied, putting runners on the corners with two outs. Watching from the stands, Myers-Mallinger’s father, Joseph Myers, noticed his son extend his hands overhead and lock his fingers, a tell that he was feeling nervous.
Then he induced an easy groundball out to seal the win, and soon he was being crushed by the weight of his team's euphoria.
“There was something about that dogpile at the end,” Myers-Mallinger said. “I knew it was going to happen.”
The teams arrived at Ripken Field in Aberdeen prepared for a 7 p.m. start, but a rain delay pushed the 2A championship game, which was scheduled for 4 p.m., back three hours.
It was the second straight finals appearance for Chesapeake (20-4), which blew a two-run seventh-inning lead to Huntingtown a season ago. This time it was the Cougars who needed a comeback.
They spent the whole game in pursuit, as Poolesville (18-3) scored two runs in the bottom of the first on Brady Pearre’s bases-loaded single. The junior, who had three hits, was in attendance to support his brother, Hunter Pearre, in 2014 when the team’s season ended in the state semifinals. Before this year, that represented the program’s best playoff performance.
“All we wanted to do was get back to that,” Pearre said. “To go even further than that and win it all is crazy.”
The Falcons scored two more runs in the fourth, but the Cougars answered in the fifth.
Colton Spangler led off the inning with a single, and after Blake Rebstock drew a walk, Tommy McNamara singled to plate both runners. The Chesapeake fans behind the Cougars’ dugout held the light blue team flag high and waved it side to side, a ritual they repeated later in the inning when a wild pitch scored another run.
But Myers-Mallinger, who entered during the inning in relief of starter Cole Carmack, escaped a bases-loaded jam before more damage could be done.
The senior said he usually hates coming on in relief, but with school history on the line, Myers-Mallinger took the ball eagerly. He said he couldn’t hear anything on the mound, even when the Cougars fans rumbled when the team advanced the tying run to third base in the seventh.
The Chesapeake flag came out once more, and it seemed like the Cougars might atone for its collapse a season ago. Then Myers-Mallinger closed.
“What a day,” he said.