State playoff picture gets clearer; Nixon, Kiple, Russo vie for 'Prep Ballplayer' - BaltimoreBaseball.com
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State playoff picture gets clearer; Nixon, Kiple, Russo vie for ‘Prep Ballplayer’

Photo credit: Harriet Wixson Petrocelli

The Class 4A state semifinals are set. The others, not so much.

Rain on Friday pushed back one sectional finals and nine of the remaining 12 regional title contests to this afternoon. The winners are back Tuesday, battling for state championship game appearances which – weather permitting – will be held Friday and Saturday at Leidos Field at Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen.

Howard fell to Northwest, 8-0, in last year’s Class 4A title game. On Tuesday, they have an opportunity for another appearance, but they will have to get through Bethesda-Chevy Chase at Shirley Povich Field in Bethesda to do it.

Severna Park captured its second-straight regional crown on Saturday with a win against Leonardtown. The Falcons, though, are looking for more. A win against CH Flowers on Tuesday puts the Anne Arundel County team into the state title game.

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Towson and Bel Air face off in the Class 3A North regional final today. The winner takes on Thomas Johnson, the west region champion, Tuesday. On the opposite side of the bracket, Huntingtown awaits either Reservoir or Chesapeake (AA) from the east region.

Like Howard, Chesapeake also lost in the title game last year — 4-3 to Poolesville. The state semifinals are held tomorrow at Joe Cannon Stadium in Hanover.

All four regional titles within Class 2A will be crowned later today. Hereford and Gwynn Park battle it out in the north region while Century, who is looking for its first region championship, takes on Walkersville.

Marriotts Ridge hopes to add a south region title to its season. A win over La Plata will do that. The winner faces either North East or Kent Island Tuesday at Harford Community College in Bel Air.

Boonsboro is the lone school who will not have to play today and tomorrow in Class 1A as it earned a victory over Northern for the west region championship late last week. The Washington County school will play the winner of the north region, Sparrows Point or Frederick Douglass.

Also in that class: North CMT and Fairmont Heights, which have yet to play their sectional final game because of rain. The winner of that game today will face McDonough (Charles County) for the south regional crown later this evening.

Col. Richardson or St. Michaels — the defending state champion — awaits that winner in the state semifinals Tuesday at McCurdy Field in Frederick.

After back-to-back postponements, the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) conference finals are set.

Archbishop Curley is looking for its first ‘A’ Conference championship since 2001.

The Friars’ opponent: Gilman, who was a victor over Loyola, 2-1, on Sunday.

This will be the second time Curley and Gilman meet this postseason. The Friars beat the Greyhounds, 4-3, Wednesday. That win put Curley into the conference finals, which will be played at 7 p.m. tonight at Harford Community College.

In regular season action, Curley swept the two-game series.

“Our guys are doing about as well as could be expected going into (the) championship game,” said Curley head coach Brooks Norris. “We were getting a little restless, not getting to play for four days, but we have a very mature group that has handled things as well as could be expected. We’ve had three solid days of practice on turf and all of our pitchers are rested and ready to go. Gilman has played us tough in all three games this year, so we certainly are not taking everything for granted, but the whole team, both players and coaches, are looking forward to (it).”

Because this is a double-elimination tournament, if the Friars lose, the teams would play again Tuesday.

In the ‘B’ Conference, Boys’ Latin matches up with Glenelg Country School, who earned a 3-2, extra-inning victory over Gerstell yesterday.

Boys’ Latin and Glenelg Country have met three times in 2018, including the postseason. Each game was separated by only one run, with Boys’ Latin winning twice.

The conference final is set for 4 p.m. today at Harford Community College. Like the ‘A’ Conference, same rules apply regarding double-elimination.

“We are obviously very excited to be in the MIAA B Conference Championship. Every game this year has been tight. We have played 12, one-run ballgames throughout the season. Three of these one run games have come against our opponent, Boys’ Latin, in the championship,” said Glenelg Country head coach Chris Garber. “Boys’ Latin is a very strong, experienced team. We know that we will have to play well against them. We look forward to the challenge.”

The MIAA ‘C’ Conference championship was decided last week when Indian Creek (pictured above) won its first MIAA title — in its second year competing in the MIAA — with a 3-2 victory over Concordia Prep in a game that was initially suspended due to rain.

Now, getting to the “Prep Ballplayer” weekly vote.

Our three candidates this week stepped up in the postseason.

Two of them found success on the mound and at the plate, while the third finalist contributed with not one, but two home runs in a playoff game.

Ethan Kiple, Sr., INF, Century

Hitting was contagious for the Century baseball team against Winters Mill on Tuesday. The Knights slugged nine home runs in a 24-3 rout in the Class 2A West sectional final. Kiple, a Harford Community College commit, had two longballs. The senior put Century on the board in the first inning with a three-run home run. An inning later — yes, you read that right — he hit a grand slam. He finished with seven RBIs and two runs scored.

Paul Nixon, Sr., INF/RHP, Archbishop Curley

Nixon has been a familiar name within our ‘Prep Ballplayer’ vote. And this week, the senior makes his third appearance. The right-hander kicked off the Friars’ ‘A’ Conference tournament with a complete-game, five-inning outing against Loyola on Monday. Nixon, also a Harford Community College commit, allowed two runs on two hits and struck out 10 batters. At the plate, he had two doubles and recorded two RBIs. Two days later, he notched a hit and a run in a 4-3 win over Gilman — the victory sent Curley to the championship game of the ‘A’ Conference, which will be played this evening.

Tyler Russo, Jr., LHP, Glenelg Country School

Glenelg Country blanked Gerstell, 8-0, in the second round of the ‘B’ Conference tournament on Monday. And you can thank the junior left-hander for that. Russo pitched a complete-game shutout against the Falcons. He struck out nine hitters and allowed three hits. At the plate, he recorded three hits and tallied two RBIs. On Sunday, in the final elimination game before the conference championship, Russo took the mound against Gerstell for a second time. In three innings of relief, he faced nine batters, striking out four. His outing gave Glenelg Country the opportunity for a walk-off victory, which took place in the eighth inning. Russo also registered a hit, an RBI and a run.

Others considered (listed alphabetically): Ryan Archibald (John Carroll); Nick Brown (Archbishop Curley); Travis Garnett (Indian Creek); Nathanael Hibbs (Century); Cam Kalandros (Bel Air); AJ Holcomb (Loyola); Cameron Hyder (Reservoir); Michael Willis (Gilman).

About ‘Prep Ballplayer’ nominations: Three new candidates are revealed each Monday. You can vote — early and often — for the candidate you believe is most worthy. Voting ends on Thursday night and the winner is announced Friday afternoon.

If you’re interested in submitting candidates for our consideration, please send the player’s name, key statistics from the previous week and your contact information to [email protected]. We welcome suggestions and your feedback.


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