Lions end 38-year final four drought

Thomas’ homer helps seal first trip to state semi­fi­nals since 1978

Record Observer - - Sports - By CHRIS KNAUSS ck­nauss@star­dem.com

QA’s 7 — Fall­ston 4

FALL­STON — Dy­lan Thomas picked a good time to hit his first high school home run and the Lions picked a great time to stay hot Fri­day af­ter­noon.

Thomas launched a tworun homer in the top of the sev­enth in­ning to give Queen Anne’s County High’s base­ball team some breath­ing room in the Class 2A East Re­gion cham­pi­onship game against Fall­ston.

Thomas, Queen Anne’s ju­nior catcher, went 3 for 3 with three RBIs and the Lions never trailed to win the re­gion cham­pi­onship with a 7-4 vic­tory.

Queen Anne’s (12-9) sea­son ended at the hands of Wil­liamsport dur­ing Tues­day’s 2A state semi­fi­nal in a 9-0 de­feat.

The Lions last reached the state final four in 1978 when they won the school’s lone state cham­pi­onship in base­ball.

Thomas’ home run eas­ily cleared the 330-foot mark on the fence in right-cen­ter putting the Lions up 7-5.

“Dy­lan with the big home run. That’s our first home run all year and what a great time for it,” Lions head coach Chris Fitzger­ald said.

Fall­ston’s Noah Ha­gen­ston home­red to about the same spot for the Cougars’ final run in the bot­tom of the sev­enth.

Queen Anne’s Pat Free­man earned the win, al­low­ing two runs (none earned) in five in­nings. Chase Porter pitched the final two frames for the Lions.

“Pat Free­man has re­ally stepped up for us big-time,” Fitzger­ald said. “He stepped up for us Wed­nes­day against Eas­ton and came in and gave us the in­nings we needed, and again to­day he pitches five great in­nings.”

The Lions jumped ahead 3-0 in the first in­ning. Cam­den Lan­caster and Luke Wed­dell each walked to open the at-bat and Nick Cin­tron moved them into scor­ing po­si­tion with a sac­ri­fice bunt. Thomas fol­lowed with a loop­ing RBI sin­gle up the mid­dle. With two outs, Free­man lined a two-run sin­gle to left for the 3-0 lead.

Fall­ston (12-8) struck in the third to make it a 3-2 game. Colin Gay reached base on an er­ror and ad­vanced to se­cond on a twoout walk to Everett Cox. Ha­gen­ston and Sean Harris fol­lowed with RBI sin­gles be­fore Free­man struck out the final bat­ter of the in­ning.

Af­ter a score­less fourth and fifth, Queen Anne’s added a run in the sixth. Free­man sin­gled to left and Darin Rose­brock dou­bled to deep right. With one out, Porter sin­gled up the mid­dle for a 4-2 lead. The Cougars, though, picked up some mo­men­tum with a dou­ble play, in­clud­ing a tag out at home, to end the at-bat and to keep the score close.

Harris (2 for 3) sin­gled on the first de­liv­ery from Porter in the bot­tom of the sixth and scored on a twoout throw­ing er­ror to cut the Lions’ lead to 4-3. Lan­caster, Queen Anne’s se­nior short­stop who made the er­ror, re­bounded to record the final as­sist, strand­ing two run­ners, as the Lions stayed in front.

“He’s there for a rea­son,” Fitzger­ald said of Lan­caster. “He’s a three-year starter there at short­stop. You get a lot of chances there and we know he’s go­ing to come up with the big plays. He’s done it all year, did it last year. That’s why he’s there.”

Three straight hits by the Lions, end­ing with Thomas’s home run, in the top of the sev­enth gave them a com­fort­able cush­ion. Wed­dell looped a sin­gle to left and took se­cond on a wild pitch. Cin­tron fol­lowed with an RBI sin­gle to left to make it 5-3 be­fore Thomas un­loaded.

“I got a fast­ball inside and low, just took my hands to the ball and went with it,” Thomas said. “It felt great off the bat. I kind of saw it got up in the air, got up there and went over.”

Cougars start­ing pitcher Bryce Lo­gan suf­fered the loss, al­low­ing three runs

PHOTO BY CHRIS KNAUSS

Queen Anne’s Dy­lan Thomas is mobbed by team­mates af­ter his two-run home run in the top of the sev­enth in­ning Fri­day af­ter­noon in the 2A East Re­gion ti­tle game against Fall­ston.

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