Schnoor single earns Warriors spot in 2A South Region final
Matt Schnoor knew exactly what was at stake when he stepped into the batter’s box at La Plata in the bottom of the seventh inning on Tuesday afternoon. And with the bases loaded and just one out, he knew exactly what opportunity stood in front of him.
If he could find a way to bring the run home from third, the Warriors would defeat Patuxent to play one more game for the Class 2A South Region championship. If he didn’t, well then who knew what would happen.
“I was just looking for a fastball over the plate that I could hit hard somewhere,” Schnoor said of the at-bat. “The infield was in, so I was just trying to hit a ball hard past them to score the winning run.”
Schnoor delivered, hitting a line drive to right field for a single to lift the Warriors to a 5-4 win over the Panthers in the 2A South Region Section I final.
La Plata, which is the defending 2A state champion, will host Southern of Anne Arundel County in the 2A South final at 11 a.m. Saturday with the winner advancing to the 2A state semifinals on Tuesday at Harford Community College in Bel Air versus the winner of the 2A West championship game that has Middletown of Frederick County taking on Marriotts Ridge of Howard County.
“Just joy to know that we get to move on again,” Schnoor said of the emotions he was feeling. “All the seniors get to play another game at home in front of our fans.”
The road to get there was not without peril, as La Plata (14-5 overall) trailed Patuxent (8-13) early and struggled to get anything going against Panthers starting pitcher Sayo Kintunde.
Patuxent’s Brian King delivered a two-run single with the bases loaded in the top of the second inning, plating Kintunde and Trevan Rocarek to give the visitors an early 2-0 lead. La Plata escaped further damage, however, as Patuxent left the bases loaded in the inning.
La Plata had just one hit through three innings and had not seriously threatened Kintunde. But to open the bottom of the fourth, Quinn Krahling reached on a grounder to shortstop. Initially Krahling was ruled out, but the call was overturned with the ruling that Patuxent’s first baseman had come off the base.
Kintunde next two Schnoor with two retired the batters, but then walked outs and Nick
Steury singled to drive home the Warriors’ first run. Peytyn Gray was then hit by a pitch to bring Jarrod Schmitz, La Plata’s No. 9 hitter, to the plate. Schmitz came through with a two-run single to left to give the hosts their first lead, 3-2.
“We were down one at that point, and honestly I was just trying to get in one run so we could tie it up and everybody could be back to a new ballgame,” Schmitz said. “I think we’re one of the best teams when we’re out here with all our fans behind us and with our kids on the mound who I know are great doing what they do. I figured if we got it back to even, we’d win the game.”
For Patuxent, the inning dealt a major blow. Instead of potentially retiring the side in order, the Panthers gave up three runs and Kintunde needed to throw nearly 40 pitches which ultimately limited him to just five innings. The fourth-inning damage was exacerbated in the sixth, when Steury drew a two-out walk and eventually scored an insurance run on an error to increase the Warriors’ edge to 4-2 heading to the final inning.
Up against La Plata’s highly touted freshman Ryan Calvert in the seventh, Patuxent refused to go quietly. Mason Calvert and Nate Kistler opened the inning with back-toback singles to give the Panthers runners at the corners with nobody out. Calvert regrouped to retire the next two batters, but Kintunde’s two-out hit to left scored Calvert and Kistler to tie the game. Kintunde later took third on a wild pitch, but ultimately was stranded there as the Warriors worked out of the inning without any further damage.
In the bottom half, Krahling and Calvert each singled with one out and Dean Kirby followed with a walk to load the bases for Schnoor. Then, on an 0-ball, 2-strike count, Schnoor delivered the hit that put the Warriors back in the region final.
Calvert worked the final three innings for La Plata to pick up the win. He didn’t allow a base runner through his first two innings before the drama of the seventh unfolded. He allowed three hits and struck out five. Kirby started on the mound and went four innings, surrendering two runs on two hits and three walks to go along with six strikeouts.
“They have a great program,” La Plata head coach John Childers said of Patuxent. “Kintunde was great on the hill. He really kept us off balance and commanded the zone. He’s better than last year. He’s improved. They got ahead of us and put some pressure on us and we didn’t handle it very well for a few innings. The bottom of our order had some really good at-bats in key situations.
“Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good, and I think we were a little lucky today. But you know, that’s baseball. We’ve taken some tough losses this year. There were three or four games we probably should have won and found a way to lose. Maybe this is a little payback.”
Kintunde allowed three runs on four hits and a walk while striking out six in his five innings for work for Patuxent. Tuesday’s outcome was a heartbreaking end for the Panthers, who had high hopes for a long postseason run after an up-anddown regular season.
“They didn’t quit on us all year,” Patuxent head coach Keith Powell said of his team. “We struggled the early and middle parts of the season. We struggled a lot and our guys never quit. They kept coming to practice and worked their butts off. They did everything we asked of them. It’s a great group of seniors. They’re all going on to college, a few of them are majoring in engineering. We have some smart kids with very bright futures. It’s just a shame that a high school game is taken from them the way it was today. La Plata’s good. Hat’s off to them. They’re a good team, but they didn’t win the game today. It was taken from us.”
Saturday’s region final between Southern — which won the region’s Section II final at Prince George’s County’s Crossland on Wednesday — and La Plata features two teams who have won the last three 2A state championships. Southern won back-to-back crowns in 2014 and 2015, while La Plata finished on top a year ago.
“I’m just glad we’re playing here again on [Saturday],” Schmitz said. “It’s going to be a great time for the seniors, knowing it’s their last game here. Everybody’s going to give it their all. I think we’ll do really well on [Saturday] and hopefully move on in the tournament.”
La Plata’s baseball team celebrates after Matt Schnoor’s RBI single in the bottom of the seventh lifted the Warriors to a 5-4 win over the visiting Patuxent Panthers on Tuesday afternoon in the Class 2A South Region Section I final.
La Plata’s Peytyn Gray slides through the tag of Patuxent’s Reese Crounse with a stolen base in the fourth inning of the teams’ Class 2A South Region Section I final at La Plata on Tuesday afternoon. La Plata defeated Patuxent 5-4.