Westminster sends Harman out with Class 4A state championship

Owls claim 8-7 win over Severna Park in coach's last game

  • The Westminster baseball team celebrates its Class 4A state championship.
The Westminster baseball team celebrates its Class 4A state… (Baltimore Sun photo by Gene…)
May 27, 2011|By Rich Scherr, Special to The Baltimore Sun

Second-ranked Westminster on Friday night seemed to all but gift wrap its going-away present to retiring coach Bryan Harman with a six-run first inning.

Following a monumental comeback by No. 4 Severna Park, however, it was an infield single by the Owls' Chad Diehl that ultimately fastened the bow, giving the Carroll County team an 8-7 win in the Class 4A state final at Ripken Stadium.

Diehl, who had relieved starting pitcher Brandon Taylor in the fifth, reached on a single toward the right side of the infield with two outs in the sixth, scoring Cody Harman from third with the go-ahead run.

He then retired the side in the seventh to preserve the win, striking out Trevor Freeman with the bases loaded to end the Falcons' final rally and complete a perfect season for the Owls (23-0). They became the 11th team to finish as an unbeaten state champion in the 35 years the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association has kept records.

They also sent their coach out on a victorious note.

"Normally I don't do well with finalities," Harman said. "This is a great finality. I'm sure next week when I say goodbye permanently to my seniors and the rest of the team, I'm going to look like a little sissy."

Harman finished 160-55 during his 10 years at Westminster, which also included another state title in 2007. He began his coaching career in 1989 at Liberty.

For Severna Park, which had rallied from a 7-0 deficit with five runs in the fifth and two in the sixth, the outcome was more difficult to swallow.

"These were the two best teams in the state of Maryland playing tonight. [It's] nothing to hang our heads about," said Severna Park coach Jim McCandless, whose team was denied its fourth state title since 2003.

Westminster wasted little time in this one, sending 10 batters to the plate in the first inning and knocking out starting pitcher Evan Mendoza -- a freshman who had entered the night 5-0 with a 2.80 ERA, but allowed six straight batters to reach base with two outs.

Deven Boone delivered the first big blow, sending a two-run double to the gap in right center. Then, with the bases loaded three batters later, Paul Roemer tagged a drive that one-hopped the wall in right, scoring all three runners to extend the lead to 6-0.

Down by seven, however, Severna Park (20-6) finally got to Westminster's Taylor, who hadn't allowed a hit through the first four innings.

Aided by an error and a hit batsman, the Falcons struck back for five runs of their own, with Mike Campbell, Brent Powers, Mendoza and Connor Wells each delivering RBI singles in the inning.

They then pulled even in the sixth on an RBI single by Wells, but Westminster right fielder Ryan Robinson nailed the potential go-ahead run at the plate to end the inning

Westminster loaded the bases in the sixth on consecutive bunt singles by Mitch McVerry, Cody Harman and Taylor. Following a double play that forced the runner at the plate, Diehl legged out an infield single to score the go-ahead run from third.

"We watched them play the other night, and we're well aware that they scored 10 runs in one inning," Bryan Harman said. "We knew that seven runs wasn't enough."

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