Arundel has won more state championships (8) than any public school team in Maryland because the Wildcats have a knack of cashing in on the unexpected.
Yesterday in Gambrills, the top-ranked Wildcats (17-5) took advantage of a freak injury to Severna Park's starting pitcher and ruined the Falcons' final chance by turning a bizarre bounce into a double play.
Arundel got a typical big-game effort from ace right-hander Andy Kostic and scored three unearned runs to edge No. 2 Severna Park, 3-2, in the Class 4A East quarterfinals.
Arundel plays at Chesapeake (9-10), a 6-1 winner over Meade (5-12), at 4 p.m. tomorrow.
It was the Wildcats' fourth consecutive win over the Falcons (17-5) this season, and the sixth in the last two seasons.
Arundel has eliminated the Falcons in each of the last three seasons -- in the region final last year and the first game for both in '97 and yesterday.
All three games were not settled until the last inning and in each case, the Wildcats' ace and big-game pitcher -- Kurt Light in '97, and Kostic, 18-2 over the last two seasons -- notched the win.
Kostic (8-1) spun a four-hitter with nine strikeouts and two walks on 112 pitches (70 strikes) yesterday. The two runs were unearned and they came in the second inning on a sacrifice fly by Kevin Campbell and a run-scoring double to right by sophomore designated hitter Mike Prim for a 2-1 Falcons lead.
Arundel had scored in its first at-bat on the first two of seven errors by the Falcons. Norris Roy came home on an error by third baseman Jon King for a 1-0 lead.
With senior right-hander Nick DeAngelis (5-0) shutting down the Wildcats and working on a two-hitter in his first appearance against Arundel this season, the Falcons took the 2-1 lead into the bottom of the fifth.
Leadoff batter Brian Puglise should have been out on a foul pop in front of the Falcons' third-base dugout. Catcher Chris Odom called off third baseman King, but missed the ball.
DeAngelis hit Puglise with a pitch and the latter's courtesy runner, Mike Moore, moved to second on Chip Ziegler's fielder's choice.
Getting Roy in the hole with a strike two pitch, DeAngelis landed wrong and grabbed his throwing arm after the pitch. He had to be removed.
"Nick might have torn a tendon. It's pretty serious and he's going to have an MRI taken, " said Severna Park coach Jim Pitt, who brought in left-hander Doug Sherry.
Sherry's first pitch to Roy was in the dirt, allowing Moore to move to third. Roy lined the 1-2 pitch into right-center to tie the game at 2-2.
"I popped up against him in the county championship game [8-2 Arundel win]," said Roy.
"But I knew I could get the hit."
With Mike Fox batting, Roy stole second and Odom's throw went into center field, allowing Roy to take third. As Roy was sliding into third, center fielder Tony Dokoupil charged in and the ball skipped past him. Roy scored the winning run standing up.
In a rare control lapse, Kostic walked Derek Dixon and Chris DiMenna to start the sixth, but struck out the next three batters swinging.
In the top of the seventh, pinch hitter Kevin Wells led off with a single to center. Dokoupil then hit a 3-1 pitch up the middle for an apparent base hit, but the ball hit something in the dirt near second base and bounced straight up, finding its way into the bare hand of second baseman Kevin Brooks.
Brooks stepped on the bag and threw to first to double up Dokoupil.
"We practice those double plays," said Arundel coach Bernie Walter, tongue in cheek.
"But seriously I think our kids are well prepared and understand how to play the game and what they've got to do in certain situations."
Old Mill 5, Westminster 3: Old Mill center fielder Brandon White said he knew it was just a matter of time before he and the 15th-ranked Patriots got to Westminster ace Mike Taylor in yesterday's Class 4A East quarterfinal.
Old Mill (15-6) advances to tomorrow's region semifinal against Glen Burnie, an 8-7 victor over Annapolis.
After spending most of the game lagging behind the right-hander's heater, however, they did it with little time to spare.
Trailing by a run, Old Mill scored three in the seventh inning, including two on White's triple into the gap in right-center, as the Patriots came from behind to beat the host Owls.
White, who entered his final at-bat 0-for-3, said he was anxious for another chance.
"I saw all the pitches that I wanted to see, but just didn't get a hold of them right," said White. "He was throwing the same straight balls to everybody. Once we got a couple chances to see him, it was just a matter of time."