Senior right-hander John Hodges pitched and batted No. 9 Northeast to a 5-3 upset of No. 4 Arundel to win the Anne Arundel County baseball championship last night at Joe Cannon Stadium in Harmans.
It was first title for the Eagles (17-4) since the county championship began in 1996 in what was their second finals appearance. Northeast ended Arundel's streak of two straight titles.
A year ago, Hodges lost, 3-1, to the Wildcats in the county final, and he was determined not to let history repeat itself.
"I wasn't going to let it happen two years in a row," Hodges said. "We had to come back and win this year. It meant everything to me."
Hodges pitched a four-hitter, and after his throwing error gave Arundel (14-7) a 3-2 lead in the sixth, he delivered a two-run single off the left-field fence in the top of the seventh. Earl Geoghegan singled in the fifth run soon after.
The Eagles loaded the bases with no outs against Brooks Miller, who had relieved Arundel starter T.J. Brenneman in the sixth. Hodges stepped up and golfed a pitch off the fence in left near the 310-foot sign.
It was nearly a grand slam, but ended up being a two-run single because Brody Kean, the runner on first, tripped near second base. "It was a fastball low and inside," Hodges said. "It felt amazing, like no other feeling."
Hodges masterfully mixed his fastball, curve and a knuckleball that could dance with the stars.
"I felt like I threw really well and hit my spots real nice," said Hodges, who struck out seven and walked four.
Said first-year Northeast coach Adam Bolling: "John has done it all year for us. He had a couple losses early against really good teams. He's a lot better than his record [6-3] indicates."
Arundel led until Northeast tied it up in the sixth at 2-2 on a single by designated hitter Kyle Bush. The Wildcats regained the lead in the bottom half on the throwing error by Hodges, but he made up for it in the next at bat.
"We've been in these kind of games all year and to win like this is what we need going into the playoffs, " Bolling said.