ABERDEEN – Gov. Thomas Johnson High School is – once again, and for the first time since 2002 — the Class 3A MPSSAA state champions.
The Patriots’ 3-2 victory over Huntingtown Saturday night is the fourth title for the storied Frederick County program.
“These guys don’t want to stop playing baseball,” Thomas Johnson head coach Bill Gross said after the game. “They love it too much to stop. … To bring (a title) back to TJ, it’s special.
“Great team effort, great team performance and can’t speak enough about these guys.”
How It Happened
It didn’t take long for both teams to get on the board. Thomas Johnson used two singles and a throwing error to plate two runs in the first. Huntingtown answered in the bottom half as Caleb Karbowsky, who drew a leadoff walk and reached third on a double by Cy Harwood, scored on a Clayton Wargo sacrifice fly.
“Our big thing, and I tell the guys all the time, ‘In a fight, it’s always better to deliver the first punch,'” Gross said.
Thomas Johnson added another run in the second — Justin Bolden led off the inning with a single and later scored on a RBI single by Jacob Berry.
The Huntingtown Hurricanes plated their second and final run in the fifth on Karbowsky’s RBI double that drove home Jayson Brunclik.
Everything lined up perfectly in the playoffs for Tyler Rhoderick to get the ball in the state title game.
And when that time came, the senior didn’t disappoint.
The right-hander, who was pulled with two outs in the seventh due to pitch limits, gave up two runs — one in the first and another in the fifth.
Huntingtown recorded eight hits against Rhoderick, but he kept the Hurricanes off-balance enough to limit the damage while notching three strikeouts.
“I knew if I threw strikes, we were going to be OK,” Rhoderick said.
On the state championship win, he added, “All of our seniors, we’ve been in the baseball program four years, this is what we work for every year. … My emotions were so high when Jack Maruskin caught that ball in center (for the final out). I was at a loss of words.”
The double play: Huntingtown was threatening in back-to-back innings late in the game. But Rhoderick induced two ground balls to end the threats.
The first occurred in the fifth, when the Hurricanes had runners on first and second with one out. A grounder was hit toward the bag at third — Gabe Stitley fielded it, touched the base and threw to first.
An inning later, Huntingtown loaded the bases with one out. Shortstop Jacob Orr corralled a grounder up the middle, placed his foot on second and fired the ball over to first.
“I was so happy,” Rhoderick added. “Emotions were running so high.”
FINAL: Thomas Johnson 3 Huntingtown 2 pic.twitter.com/Z4UYdItdGo
— Sean Naylor (@sean_naylor) May 27, 2018