ABERDEEN – It was supposed to be over for the Sherwood High School in the seventh inning.
However, Old Mill Senior High School battled back on the bottom of the inning to tie the game up with no outs. The Sherwood bench prepared for the worst as Old Mill’s bench readied for a celebration. Their triumph would have to wait for two more innings until they could celebrate their Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association (MPSSAA) 4A baseball state championship win.
Sherwood continued fighting until the ninth inning when their defense finally broke down against an Old Mill team that found its groove late in the game. One hit was all it took to end a game that went nine innings and saw Sherwood’s dreams for a state title end with a 4-3 loss on May 24.
“Pretty devastated. We felt we were the better team; we fought our butts off, and we couldn’t finish the job,” said senior third baseman JP Yore. “It’s a tough game, but we’re still brothers.”
Until the seventh inning, Sherwood was leading by three runs. Scoring opportunities presented themselves, but the defense displayed by both teams made breaking through and creating game-changing plays a harder task than usual. Pitching on both sides was commendable, and it wasn’t until the eighth inning that both teams chose to switch their starting pitcher to a backup.
“It was very emotional. It’s the last game of the season; try to go out with a bang,” said senior Old Mill pitcher Hunter McKean. “The team, we just knew we had it in us.”
The scoring started early in the first inning for Sherwood, when junior shortstop Luke Cheng ran home after a sacrificial hit by senior third baseman Bradshaw Steeley. On the next play, a triple by Yore brought home junior outfielder Joey Bowers and senior second baseman Lane Armour.
Both teams had opportunities to post runs in the third inning, but only Old Mill was able to capitalize. With one out left and bases loaded, the potential for Sherwood to expand their lead significantly in the third inning was possible, but junior outfielder Jack Braun struck out before he could move his teammates.
Junior outfielder Caleb Bailey stole home for Old Mill’s first run of the night. With senior outfielder Ian Adams on third after his score and two outs remaining, Old Mill had a shot at narrowing the lead even further until Sherwood outed the next two batters.
“Give Old Mill credit; they scratched and clawed their way back into the game,” said Sherwood Head Coach Sean Davis. “In the later innings, extra innings, they completely outplayed us, outhit us, probably deserved to win the game.”
The seventh inning came, and after Sherwood couldn’t score, their fate remained with their pitcher, senior Ben Vok, against Old Mill batters. However, two runs by Patriots tied up the game, and a double by Bailey threatened to end the game. But Sherwood managed to get out of the jam and send the game to extra innings.
“Honestly, that seventh inning we should have lost,” said senior Sherwood first baseman Michael Bouma. “Runner on third, no outs, Luke Cheng sets up a pretty good play like he has all season.”
A triple by Yore with one out remaining in the eighth inning threatened to break the tie but never materialized into a run.
Old Mill put in sophomore pitcher Kevin Curran to replace McKean at the mound in the eighth inning. Curran retired six batters before the end of the game, allowing only Yore and his triple to advance.
Consecutive singles by sophomore outfielder Eric Mondragon, Bailey and senior outfielder Ian Adams loaded the bases. With no outs, Old Mill’s comeback to win their fourth state title was complete after senior shortstop Xander Waddell’s single drove in the game-winning run.
“Honestly I just went up to the plate; I just got to get a job done here, no outs, bases loaded, got to get the ball into the outfield and hopefully get my runner to pack up,” said Waddell.