Perry Hall (16-2) used a six-run second inning to take the lead for good and advance in the state baseball playoffs with a 10-5 victory over Gaithersburg (14-4) at Anne Arundel County's Joe Cannon Stadium yesterday.
The victory earned Perry Hall the right to defend its Class 4A state title against Arundel, a 15-5 winner over Oxon Hill. The title game will be Saturday at 7 p.m. at McCurdy Field in Frederick.
After the Trojans scored two runs in the top of the second to break a 1-1 tie, the Gators loaded the bases before a windblown pop-up by Roy Marsh allowed two runs to score. Gaithersburg starter Joey Spivak walked the next three batters to walk in another.
Gaithersburg coach Paul Cain lifted Spivak for reliever Bill Demory, but Perry Hall's Joe Basiaga greeted him with a single to score Kevin Loewe and Donnie Burks. The Gators scored their final run of the inning when Demory walked in Wes Wedmore.
The Gators took a 10-3 lead before allowing five runs in the last two innings to make the score close. Perry Hall coach Larry Butts lifted pitcher Dave Niedzialkowski with none out in the seventh, and closer Jeff Wingfield retired three of the last five he faced to preserve the win.
"I knew I had to go out and do my job," said Wingfield. "I just kept the ball down, and the infielders came through for me."
In the other semifinal, Arundel took advantage of six Oxon Hill errors, combined with 13 hits of their own, to defeat the Clippers.
Unbeaten Northeast continued its quest to become the first state baseball team to have a 24-0 season with a 13-3 victory over Middletown at McCurdy Field. Northeast is seeking its fourth straight championship and seventh in 10 years.
The Eagles (23-0) will face Hammond, a 7-6 winner over Edgewood at Joe Cannon Stadium, in the 10 a.m. championship Saturday at McCurdy Field.
The Eagles overcame a 2-0 deficit in the bottom of the first with a two-run single by Rich Speigel (2-for-4, two RBI) and a two-run triple by Chad O'Brien (2-for-4, two RBI).
Don Shump's three-run homer in the second inning -- his sixth homer of the year -- cleared the center-field fence and put the Eagles ahead, 7-2.
A four-run fourth inning gave the Eagles a 12-2 lead. Northeast's Craig Everett (8-0) pitched a complete game, striking out nine, walking three and giving up just four hits. Middletown fell to 16-5.
In the other semifinal, Joe Nestor pitched a two-hitter and struck out eight to lead Hammond (19-4) over Edgewood (17-6).
The Bears used a double by Mike Alvarez and a homer by Jeff Lavis to take a 4-0 lead in the first inning, then added a run in the fifth and two in the sixth.
Wade Griessen doubled in the second and Eric Santana singled in the sixth to account for Edgewood's hits.
Paint Branch pitcher Ryan Lambert allowed just three Dundalk singles, and the Owls hit only four balls out of the infield as they fell to the top-seeded Panthers, 5-0, in a semifinal at Arundel.
Paint Branch (18-1) advances to Saturday's state championship game against Thomas Stone, a 9-2 winner over South Carroll, at McCurdy Field at 4 p.m..
Fourth-seeded Dundalk (13-6) had won eight straight.
In the other semifinal, Nick Clessuras went 3-for-3 with three RBI and three runs scored, and Brian McCully pitched 4 2/3 innings of perfect relief to lead Thomas Stone (23-0) over South Carroll.
Top-seeded Brunswick of Frederick County scored all of its runs in the third, fourth and fifth innings as it eliminated fourth-seeded Havre de Grace, 11-1, in a semifinal at Arundel.
Winner Scott Frye pitched a three-hitter and struck out 11.
Brunswick advances to Saturday's 1 p.m. state championship game at McCurdy Field against Williamsport, a 4-3 winner over North Caroline.