The La Plata baseball team is going back to the Maryland 2A championship after having to work for nearly every out in a 1-0 win against Hereford on Tuesday in Silver Spring.
With two runners on in the first inning, La Plata turned a double play around the horn. In the fifth, third baseman Ryan Calvert barehanded a bunt to avoid a tense situation. In the end, the Warriors found themselves in a near-flawless pitchers’ duel won by senior Dean Kirby.
Kirby threw five scoreless innings and drove in the only run, and La Plata finished off Hereford in about 80 minutes.
For seven innings, the teams played nearly mistake-free. There was only one error and one walk — after a nine-pitch battle. The starting pitchers faced 44 batters and went to three-ball counts only three times. Base running issues were scarce, too.
“You got to hope for a run. You got to manufacture them — we were bunting, trying to get kids around,” Kirby said. “One run had to be enough.”
This was a game played at the margins. In the second inning, with a runner on first, La Plata’s Tyler Moody drilled a double over the left fielder, but a perfect relay throw nailed the runner at home by 15 feet. In the next inning, Hereford starter Aaron Winsker responded to the game’s only error by throwing the lead runner out at third after a bunt before striking out the next two hitters.
Finally, an opening appeared in the fifth inning when La Plata’s Alex Borges doubled and then moved to third on a wild pitch with one out. The next batter, Shane Kirby, popped a flyball to right field, but Borges didn’t chance a sprint home. Then came Dean Kirby, who smacked an outside pitch to second base. It took a nasty bounce and landed in the outfield, scoring Borges.
“It happens, but it’s baseball,” Dean Kirby said. “You’ve got to do your part.”
Dean Kirby was relieved in the sixth by Calvert, who has pitched 55⅔ innings and allowed just three earned runs this season. He retired six straight hitters on four strikeouts and two groundballs, and La Plata formed a dogpile in the infield. They will return to Aberdeen, where they lost, 4-1, against Century in last year’s final.
The Warriors won their first three tournament games by a combined 31-0, so when they found themselves in a battle Tuesday, Coach John Childers worried. “[Hereford] put the fear of God in us,” he said afterward.
There was no fear in Dean Kirby. He threw 63 pitches, so he can pitch again Saturday against Middletown. Calvert can, too. And the Warriors can win a close one, Dean Kirby said.
“One is enough for us.”
Northern baseball put together a breakout state tournament over the past couple of weeks, winning the school’s first regional title since 2009. But the run ended with a 4-2 loss to C. Milton Wright in the Class 3A state semifinals.
The Patriots couldn’t overcome a slow start, in which they allowed three unearned runs in the first inning.
“I think maybe we were a little too anxious, a little too tight,” Coach Bobby Gibbons said by phone afterward.
Northern’s deficit stood at 4-0 heading to the sixth inning, when the Patriots rallied with two runs and brought up the heart of their order for the seventh. But they went no further.
Gibbons’ team had beaten Chopticon, 8-3, in its first state tournament game and then upset top-seeded Huntingtown in 10 innings to reach the regional final. That’s an experience Gibbons said his team can learn from entering next season.
On the same field where its season ended last year, McDonough kept its spring going for a few more days.
The Rams outlasted Randallstown, 5-2, in the state semifinals at McCurdy Field in Frederick. They lost a state semifinal there against St. Michael’s last year, 12-2.
McDonough led 2-1 after one inning Tuesday before Randallstown tied it at two. The Rams took over the rest of the way to set up a trip to the state championship Saturday against Colonel Richardson in Aberdeen.