Walkersville was making its sixth appearance in the state baseball tournament, including a finalist berth two years ago.
It was the first state appearance in school history for North Harford.
No matter how much a coach talks about it, or the players think about, this is not just another game.
This was reflected in yesterday's state Class 2A semifinal, as Walkersville scored only two earned runs, but capitalized on 10 North Harford errors for a 12-2 win at Arundel. The game was halted by the 10-run rule with the Lions batting in the last of the fifth.
"We were so tight, so tense," North Harford coach Tim Larrimore said. "You could see it before the game."
These were the North region champions, a team that had allowed just four runs -- one of them earned -- in winning four playoff games.
On the other side, Walkersville (20-3), winners of its fifth Monocacy Valley Athletic League title in the last eight years, had won eight in a row. On the year, its only losses were to Class 4A Frederick, South Hagerstown and Williamsport.
The first inning had the look of a state semifinal, as senior left-hander Bret Fouche (9-1, 2.60 ERA) put the Hawks down 1-2-3, and North Harford senior left-hander Randy Weeks (7-2, 2.00 ERA) retired the Walkersville side on strikeouts.
The Hawks (16-9) gave an inkling of what was to come in the bottom of the second, when, on two consecutive plays, they made successive fielding errors, and compounded one of them with a throwing error.
By the time Weeks fanned Pat Calloway, the Lions' eighth batter of the inning, Walkersville had three runs and North Harford five errors.
The winners finished with 11 hits, including two hits and a RBI by Nick Clabaugh, three singles by Alex Carddy (.415 batting average before the game) and a run-scoring triple by Paul Purdham.
For North Harford, senior standout Mike Pezzica had a double and a home run, and drove in both his team's runs.
"We told our players to put the ball in play, and good things would happen," Walkersville coach Paul Merrill said. "Still you have to feel for North Harford. They are a much better team than that. They had one of those days."
"For the season, we probably averaged one to 1.5 errors a game," Larrimore said. "At this point, you recognize they're youngsters, and I'm very proud of them."