Kyle Chieh had a strong opinion about the two strikes called during his second at-bat Friday afternoon, and the Quince Orchard senior was not afraid to let everyone know. An audible groan followed each call by the umpire until Chieh finally shook his head, stepped back into the batter’s box and decided that the next throw from Bethesda Chevy-Chase’s Connor Kannapell would not get by him.
The senior’s urgency paid off, and his RBI single in the bottom of the fourth inning broke open a scoreless affair . With momentum in hand, the Cougars brought two more runners home in the inning en route to a 3-1 win over the Barons in the Maryland 4A West region final. Quince Orchard advances to Tuesday’s state semifinals, in which it will face Leonardtown, which rallied past Severna Park, 5-3.
“I did not like those two pitches and strike calls at all, but by the end of it, I was okay with the outcome,” Chieh said. “I saw a four-seam fastball spin over the plate, and I went for it.”
Once the Cougars (17-5) seized control, they quickly tightened the reins on the streaking Barons, who shook off a slow start to win 10 of their last 12 games.
As part of his three-hit, three-strikeout performance, Nick Wong retired nine of B-CC’s last 11 batters behind an effective breaking ball. And even as the Barons (12-10) briefly threatened a rally when Alex Mieses scored in the bottom of the seventh, Wong and the Cougars remained poised, an extension of the confidence drawn from their 5-0 shutout of defending state champ Gaithersburg in the semifinal round.
“The whole year, we’ve had the talent to beat anyone, and now we’re starting to believe in ourselves,” Wong said. “We’re playing as a team, and we know what it takes to get wins.”
Kannapell did his best to keep the Cougars at bay. The righty retired Quince Orchard’s first six batters before wiggling out of a third-inning jam after the Cougars placed a runner on third base with no outs.
But following a single by Sean Cole in the fourth, the Cougars found their rhythm. Chieh’s full-count single plated the first run, and Nick Moon’s RBI double brought in two more.
● LEONARDTOWN 5, SEVERNA PARK 3: Nick Burch’s single in the seventh inning brought home Matt Taitano for the go-ahead run, securing the Raiders’ win in the 4A East region championship.
● BOWIE 8, LAUREL 6: Winners of 12 straight, the Bulldogs downed Laurel to win the 4A South region championship. They advance to face Bel Air, which shut out Howard, 3-0, in the North region final.
● HUNTINGTOWN 1, ROCKVILLE 0: The Hurricanes needed just one run in the first inning to secure the Maryland 3A East region title. The SMAC champions advance to face Aberdeen in Tuesday’s state semifinals.
● DAMASCUS 2, LINGANORE 1: The Swarmin’ Hornets erased an early deficit on George Lowe's two-run single in the fourth to win the 3A West region title. They will face Chesapeake, which edged Mount Hebron, 3-2, in the North region final.