Mattingly pitches Hornets into section final
Tosses shutout versus Braves in 3A South Region playoffs
Keyshawn Brown was speechless when asked to assess the performance of teammate and starting pitcher Terry Mattingly, who turned in a stellar outing to help the Hornets defeat host Chopticon 1-0 in a Class 3A South Section II semifinal matchup on Saturday.
Mattingly, who transferred from Leonardtown, surrendered two hits and struck out seven in six shutout innings to hold the Braves to their season-low offensive output.
All of which had Brown at a loss for words.
“He did … oh my god … there’s no words for it,” said Brown, who drove in the eventual winning run on a slow rolling infield hit in the sixth. “He did awesome.”
The fifth-seeded Hornets (6-14 overall), which defeated fourth-seeded St. Charles in the section quarterfinals on Thursday to advance to play Chopticon on Saturday, played Huntingtown in the Section II final on Tuesday. The second-seeded Hurricanes earned their berth following a 9-4 win over third-seeded Northern. Tuesday’s winner advances to the region final on Friday.
“I told them, ‘Now is the time to get hot,’” Great Mills head coach Kevin Rodgers said. “They’re just playing hard and Chopticon’s a really good team. I expected us to have to score 15, 16 runs [to have a chance] because they score a ton of runs. I love watching these guys play and they’re having fun and that’s all you can ask for at this time.”
“I’ve known this team has had it in them the whole year, we just haven’t put it together and today we did,” Great Mills first baseman Robby Hamilton said. “We have a lot of talent, we just have to get communication throughout the team and today we did.”
The top-seeded Braves ended the season at 12-7.
“I think regular sea-
son-wise we had a good year,” Chopticon assistant coach David Sapp said. “Obviously this isn’t the way you want to end it, but all the credit to Great Mills. They did a great job and they came out here and beat us in a baseball game and that happens. I believe once the kids see the big picture after this settles in and they take what we taught them, not only as players but as young men, and carry this on and that’s all you can hope for.”
“I’m proud of this whole team for everything we accomplished and fighting hard every game,” Chopticon senior second base-
man Kyle McAllister said. “We did the best we could.”
But there was only so much the Braves could do against Mattingly, who retired 7 of 8 batters early and held the Braves to 0 for 9 with runners in scoring position.
“I wanted to pound the strike zone,” said Mattingly, who was lifted following the sixth inning after reaching his 107-pitch limit. “[The defense] played a heck of a game. All I wanted was outs and groundballs, and they did what they had to do.”
“He was on fire today,” Rodgers said. “He threw pitches for strikes and they just weren’t putting good wood on the ball. He had it today. He came out and walked the first batter, but he got out of that inning and that was huge. After
that he was just picking it up and he was throwing just as hard at 100 pitches as he was in the beginning of the game.”
Sapp added: “I think we just got away from our approach a little bit. Some guys were overanxious, some guys were tentative at the plate, but he did a great job of mixing up his pitches and he got some good defensive plays from his defense and that turns into a very good game by him.”
Chopticon left six runners on base, all of them in scoring position and had its best chance to score in the fourth but Garrett Pullium was thrown out at the plate by center fielder Brown.
“He wants you to run,” Rodgers said of Brown, who has 12 assists this season.
In the fifth, Scott Cameron lashed a two-out triple over the head of Brown, but Charles Burroughs grounded out to short.
“That’s the best we’ve played defensively all season,” Rodgers said.
“We were hitting the ball, we just couldn’t come [through] in the clutch when we needed to when we had runners in scoring position,” McAllister said. “We got some hits off of [Mattingly], just not when we needed to. We could have hit better.”
Great Mills scored the only run of the game when Chase O’Dell reached on a one-out error, stole second, went to third when the throw sailed into center field and scored on Brown’s slow roller to the hole at shortstop.
“I didn’t try to do too
much with the ball, I just wanted to put it in play,” Brown said. “When I hit it I didn’t hit it hard, so I was hoping it would get through and it did and got the run home. There was one out at the time so I just wanted to make sure they couldn’t turn the double play.”
The Hornets had a chance to open the scoring in the second when Brown scored on a sacrifice fly to center field, but it was ruled he left the bag early and the Braves escaped after the 8-2-5 inning-ending double play.
“I kind of saw he left a bit early,” said Hamilton, who was thrown out at the plate in the next inning. “[But] I wasn’t scared because I knew we had it in us. I was confident all the way through.”
Hunter Davis came on to throw the seventh and retired the Braves in order.
“He did a great job,” Rodgers said. “He’s a little guy, he’s left-handed and he throws strikes. He keeps the ball down and he looked like he was throwing 20 [miles per hour] after seeing Mattingly.”
Elijah Tydings allowed six hits and struck out four in 5 2/3 innings for the Braves. Jordan Faunce came on in relief and struck out three and walked one.
“Defense and pitching you can’t ask for much more out of your team,” Sapp said. “We gave up one run and [Tydings] was upset with the result, but I thought he did a great job and Jordan did a great job as well [in relief]. Our defense played fine.”
Great Mills’ Terry Mattingly allowed two hits and struck out seven in six innings during the Hornets’ Class 3A South Region Section II semifinal game on Saturday.