Dyeing to move on
Raiders pound Eagles to advance to 4A East final
Hockey players have had a longstanding superstition to grow their beards as long as their team is still playing in the postseason. The Leonardtown baseball team has adopted a variation of that superstition, but with the hair on top of their heads.
The Raiders, bleach-dyed hair and all, jumped out early and rolled to a 10-2 win over visiting North Point in the Class 4A East Region Section II championship game on Tuesday.
“We talked about how we needed to be the team that gets behind our pitch- er on defense and then put some runs on the board to put them on their heels,” said Leonardtown head coach Chris Schoenbauer, who has not adopted the bleached hair policy. “They put what they do in practice in the game.”
Matt Bobrowski and Nick Burch have adopted the policy, and it paid off big as Burch hit a two-run home run in the first inning and Bobrowski added a three-run shot in the fourth. Tyler Huss hot a solo homer in the sixth.
“It’s my lucky hair dye,” said Bobrowski, who got his bleach job just before the game from a family friend. “I got it done right before this game. I told the lady who did it I’d hit a homer for her and I got a pitch right down the middle.”
“I did it for the playoffs,” said Burch, who went the extra mile with a bleached mohawk complete with his No. 22 shaved into the side of his head. “I knew we had a good team and knew we could do something.”
The Raiders (18-5 overall) will host Severna Park of Anne Arundel County in the 4A East Region final at 4 p.m. today. Leonardtown
won a coin flip Wednesday morning for the right to host the game.
“Whoever’s on the mound is going to have to locate their pitches well because Severna Park can hit,” Schoenbauer said of the Falcons, who advanced following a 4-1 win over Arundel in the Section I final. “We can’t give them too much to hit, get behind our pitcher and make the plays and get the outs. And [offensively] we have to have a good approach at the plate and when we have runners in scoring position we have to get them across.”
North Point had (137) won its previous two games and 8 of 9 going into Tuesday.
Leonardtown, which defeated the Eagles 10-0 on March 28, got out of a mini-jam in the first when it turned a 6-4-3 inning-ending double play, which culminated with first baseman Nolan Wood picking the ball out of the dirt.
“That was huge,” Leonardtown starting pitcher Ethan Ledig said. “I really struggled in the beginning, but these guys came back and picked me up.”
“Nolan made the big play at first base with the pick,” Schoenbauer said, “and that kind of set the tone.”
Leonardtown wasted no time jumping out to the lead in the bottom of the inning when Tyler Taitano walked and Burch lifted a fly ball over the fence.
“Almost every time we have a good game we’ll get three up, three down [defensively],” Burch said, “and then jump on them early. It gets our energy high.”
The Raiders went on to score runs in five of their six innings at the plate and pounded out 10 hits. Taitano and Burch, the team’s leadoff and No. 2 hitters, respectively, reached base all eight times they were up, and combined to go 5 for 5, drove in five runs and scored six runs.
“I love hitting behind Tyler because with him in the leadoff spot he’ll hit the crap out of the ball, he’ll take pitches, he’ll get hit by pitches, he’ll do anything to get on base,” Burch said.
“That’s why we have them at the top of the lineup,” Schoenbauer said, “because we know they can make things happen for us and get us started quick.”
Bobrowski also had a single and pinch-hitter Owen Ziemba walked and singled and scored a run.
North Point’s Ethan Martinez had an RBI single in the fourth and Dyllan Sheldon plated a run in the seventh on a sacrifice fly.
The Eagles left 10 runners on base, including six in scoring position.
Ledig allowed a run on two hits, struck out two and walked two in 4 2/3 innings. Reliever Al Stumm allowed two hits and fanned two.
“I wanted to keep the ball low with a lot of offspeed stuff because these guys can hit,” Ledig said. “[Taitano] called a great game behind the plate and the defense really stood behind me the whole entire time.”
“He located his pitches very well,” Schoenbauer said. “He was able to keep their top four hitters kind of off-balance and he was able to keep it around the plate but not over the plate and didn’t give them too much to hit.”
Leonardtown’s Logan Brock, left, slides in safely under the tag of North Point pitcher to score a run in the second inning of the Raiders’ 10-2 win in the Class 4A East Region Section II final on Tuesday.