Journey for La Plata baseball ends in 2A state semifinals
Season ends for La Plata baseball vs. Middletown in 2A state semifinals
BEL AIR — Expectations did not change for the La Plata baseball program entering the 2017 season.
The beginning of the campaign was rather rocky for the defending Class 2A state champions as they dropped five of their first eight games.
Things began to click for the Warriors as they ripped off 12 straight wins en route to their second straight Class 2A South Region championship and was the hottest team entering the 2A state semifinals.
The hot streak would end for La Plata on Tuesday as its season came to an abrupt close at the hands of the Middletown Knights of Frederick County, falling 6-4 in the state semifinals at Harford Community College.
“We started off the season 3-5 and I got umpires asking me how are you losing like this,” La Plata head coach John Childers said. “Many people thought we were dead in the water, but to the kids credit they came together and by the end of the season we played pretty good baseball.”
La Plata (15-6 overall) put itself in a three-run hole early after three innings, but responded with three runs of its own in the top of the fourth to tie the game.
The Knights answered right back in the bottom of the frame, scoring three runs to regain their three-run lead. The Warriors scored one more run in the fifth, but it wasn’t enough as Middletown got solid relief pitching from Robbie Houck and along with good defense to help secure the win.
“Middletown presented a challenge for us and made us throw something besides fastballs early in the count and we had trouble spotting our offspeed pitch. They could hit one through nine and there are no dead spots in the order,” Childers said. “I thought we were going to drive in a bunch of runs, but it just didn’t happen today.”
Houck got the win on the hill, pitching the final 3 1/3 innings of the game, allowing just one run on
two hits with two strikeouts.
“I just wanted to come out and throw strikes. I knew my defense would make plays behind me and they did that,” Houck said. “We’ve beat a lot of tough teams this year and it feels good to keep going. Just more game now.”
Middletown (19-4), which eked out a 7-5 win in 12 innings over Howard County’s Marriotts Ridge in the 2A West Region title game last week, advances to Saturday’s state championship game at Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen.
“When the game was tied and we put three runs back up in that inning that was a big deal,” said Middletown head coach Andy Baker, whose team outhit La Plata 8-4 in the game. “Our pitching and defense was solid and it feels good to beat a quality program like La Plata.”
La Plata sophomore starter Dean Kirby got into some trouble in the bottom of the second as four of seven batters for Middletown reached base.
After a one-out single to left by senior Connor Stevens, junior Ryan Woelkers (2 hits) drove in Stevens on a double to right field for the first run of the game. Following a Nick Madden walk, senior Andrew Wenner doubled Woelkers home to push the lead to two runs. Senior Jacob House then collected an RBI groundout to score Madden, making the game 3-0.
Kirby lasted two innings for La Plata, giving up three runs four hits with one strikeout. Junior Jarrod Schmitz came on in the bottom of the third.
After keeping La Plata off hitless for the first three innings, Middletown starter Luke Pryor quickly got into trouble in the top of the fourth as six of the nine batters he faced reached base on two hits, three walks and a hit batter.
Senior Quinn Krahling led off the fourth with a double to right for the La Plata’s first hit of the game. Freshman Ryan Calvert was hit by a pitch on the next-at bat. Two batters later with one out, Matt Schnoor walked to load the bases.
Junior Nick Steury then singled in Krahling for the Warriors’ first run of the game. Junior Peytyn Gray’s RBI walk brought Calvert home to cut the lead to 3-2. With two outs, senior leadoff batter Brett Pilkerton walked in courtesy runner Christian Elder to tie the game at 3.
Baker immediately came out on the mound to hand the pitching duties over to Houck. Pryor lasted 3 2/3 innings, allowing three runs on two hits with four strikeouts and five walks.
In the bottom of the fourth, with runners on first and second and one out, House’s single to center scored Woelkers, his second run of the game, to put the Knights up 4-3, and a fielding error by Pilkerton in center field scored Wenner to push the lead back to two runs.
With two outs, Middletown took a 6-3 advantage when Houck’s single scored House.
Schmitz suffered the loss for the Warriors, throwing four innings, giving up just one earned run on four hits with one strikeout and a walk.
Schnoor led the top of the sixth for La Plata with a double to left as Elder came in again as the courtesy runner.
Steury followed things up with an RBI single, scoring Elder.
“I just wanted to come out and play big for the team, I’m just sad that we fell short,” Steury said. “Middletown pitched and played defense well, just an all-around good team.”
Players and coaches from the La Plata baseball team look on from the dugout on Tuesday in the Class 2A state semifinals at Harford Community College in Bel Air. The Warriors fell 6-4 to Middletown.
La Plata sophomore starter Dean Kirby pitched just two innings in Tuesday’s 6-4 loss in the 2A state semifinals versus Middletown. Kirby gave up three runs on four hits with one strikeout and a walk.
La Plata’s Quinn Krahling pumps his fist to the sky after his leadoff double to start an eventual three-run fourth inning in Tuesday’s Class 2A state semifinals versus Middletown at Harford Community College in Bel Air. The Warriors fell 6-4 to the Knights.