SALISBURY- James M. Bennett’s varsity baseball team capped off a perfect 22-0 season with a dramatic extra inning win over LaPlata last weekend to claim the state Class 3A championship.
The Clippers rolled through the regular season undefeated and won the Bayside Championship before setting their sights on a possible state championship. After winning the 3A-East region title, Bennett cruised in the state semifinals to set up a date with LaPlata in the state championship last Saturday.
Bennett wasted no time, scoring twice in the first inning to stake starter Zak Sterling to a 2-0 lead. Sterling was dominant for much of the contest, striking out the side in the first inning and striking out seven of the first 10 batters he faced. Sterling did not give up a hit until the fourth inning, but it opened the door for a comeback for LaPlata. Sterling allowed just three earned runs all season in 49 innings pitched.
After hitting a batter, Sterling gave up a triple to allow LaPlata to plate its first run. The next batter singled and the game was tied at 2-2. The score remained tied through the seven-inning regulation game until Bennett broke through in the top of the eighth. Ryan Aebly and Josh Wyatt led off with singles and were moved into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt by Seth Windmiller.
Brandon Hayward then tripled to score two runs and came home on a single by Hunter Greenwood to give the Clippers a 5-2 lead. Sterling came out and pitched a perfect bottom of the eighth to close out the game and the celebration was on for the Clippers.