Severna Park center fielder Steve Neuberger and his second baseman teammate John Novak were starting to wonder if they'd ever beat a Northeast baseball team before graduating.
They got their answer in yesterday's 5-4 victory over the visiting, defending Class 2A state champs.
The two seniors were members of the last two Falcons squads that lost to the Eagles by a combined 31-2, including last year's 12-hit, five-home run, 15-1 Northeast victory. The Falcons, under 23rd-year coach Jim Pitt, last defeated Northeast, 4-3, in 1989.
"To lose would have been like complete failure -- for the seniors especially," said Novak (2-for-3, with a walk), who raised his RBI total to four with two solo home runs.
"The last two games I went 0-for-7 at the plate, and the last game I had about three errors. This really makes upfor everything."
Novak scored the lone run in last year's game, but Neuberger went hitless. Yesterday, Neuberger had a two-run homer.
"Personally, this was very important," said Neuberger, the Falcons' second-best hitter with a robust .565 average and two home runs. "We wanted this so bad, but I'm not sure some of the younger guys realize how bad they've been killing us."
The Eagles (6-4 overall, 3-2 in the Bay Division) led a year ago, 3-1, after the first inning, and7-1, after the second. And after two innings, yesterday, they led, 2-0.
Shawn Fleming's squeeze bunt with two men on scored K.C. Murphy, and Scott Rey crossed the plate when Wayne Hudson's shot slipped under the glove of first baseman Roy Dietrich.
With the bases loaded in the top of the third, hurler Rob McCandless hit Northeast's Derek Dolch with a pitch. The Eagles took the 3-0 lead into the bottom ofthe fourth, but that's where Novak and Neuberger began to exact their revenge.
Novak led the inning by blasting the third pitch from Eagles junior Hudson (five strikeouts, seven hits in 4 2/3 innings) over the center-field fence. Shortstop Alan Baker followed with a single before Neuberger tied the game at three by nailing his two-run shotinto the center-field trees.
McCandless, who went the distance for his fifth win, followed Neuberger with a single. Hudson hit two of the next three batters -- striking out the other -- to load the basesbefore McCandless scored the go-ahead run on Byron Druzgal's fielder's choice.
Until the fourth, Hudson (73 pitches) had let just one of nine batters -- John Milisitz, who singled -- reach base. But Novak's fifth-inning homer put the Falcons up, 5-3, and Hudson was replaced by Chris Kelly after another McCandless single.
McCandless (99 pitches, six strikeouts, five walks) hit two batters with pitches, while scattering four hits. Dolch, who hit a solo homer a year ago, went 0-for-3 against him. The Falcons, defending Friendship Division champions, are 8-0 and top-ranked in the Baltimore Sun Poll.
The fourth-ranked Eagles scored their final run on Chad O'Brien's bases-loaded fielder's choice out in the top of the sixth, but left six men stranded in the game and had three runners picked off.