BERLIN- Stephen Decatur’s varsity baseball team’s magical run through the state playoffs that peaked with a 3-1 win over Reservoir in the Class 3A-East regional championship last Friday ended with a heartbreaking loss to La Plata in the 3A semifinals on Tuesday.
The Seahawks entered the state playoffs as the number-three seed and won a pair of tight, one-run games to reach the 3A-East region championship game at home last Friday. Decatur topped Reservoir, 3-1, on Friday to win its first regional championship in recent memory and advance to the state semifinals and a date with La Plata. However, after leading the entire game, the Seahawks came a little unglued in the end and fell to the Warriors, 5-4, ending what was otherwise a remarkable season.
The Seahawks started the state playoff run with a 1-0 win over Mount Hebron, followed by 5-4 win over River Hill to reach the regional championship game. With each win, the Seahawks stayed at home with a little help and a few upsets on the other side of the bracket. Last Friday, the Seahawks faced Reservoir in the 3A-East region final and followed its trend of outstanding pitching and timely hitting to capture the title with a 3-1 win.
In the bottom of the first, Chase Church led off with a single and later scored on a single by Chase Coursey to take a 1-0 lead. Reservoir tied the game at 1-1 with a run in the top of the fourth. In the bottom of the fourth, the Seahawks took the lead again when Dallas Harrington reached on a two-out single and came home on a hit by Zach Adams. The Reservoir outfielder attempted to make a sliding catch on Adams’ hit and the ball got passed him, allowing Harrington to score the go-ahead run. Decatur padded its lead in the bottom of the fifth when a Justin Meekins single scored Andrew Borradaile to extend the lead to 3-1.
The insurance run was all starting pitcher Grant Donohue would need. Donohue was dominant throughout the game, allowing just two hits and one run through five innings. Because Donohue had pitched two days earlier against River Hill, he had reached his quota of 14 innings per week and was relieved in the regional title game by Sean Colgan. Colgan got off to a rough start, allowing the first two runners he faced to reach. However, he settled down and pitched out of the jam and closed out Reservoir in the seventh to secure the Seahawks’ 3-1 win and the regional title.
Against La Plata in the state 3A-East semifinals on Tuesday, things started well for the Seahawks, who got on the board in the first inning when Meekins doubled and later scored on a single by Jacob Hickman to take a 1-0 lead. With Donohue again dominating on the mound, the Seahawks appeared poised to advance to the state championship game. In the top of the third, Hickman doubled to score Coursey and Harrington later hit a sacrifice fly to score Meekins as Decatur took a 3-0 lead. The Seahawks made it 4-0 in the top of the fifth when a Harrington single scored Coursey.
With Donohue throwing goose eggs and a 4-0 lead, Decatur inched closer to reaching the state championship game before things started to unravel. La Plata scored three times in the bottom of the fifth to cut the Decatur lead to 4-3. In the bottom of the seventh, the Warriors got a lead-off double and the runner advanced to third on a fly ball to the outfield.
Donohue then issued an intentional pass to set up a potential double play to end the game. After a pop up, the situation remained runners on first and third with two outs and the Seahawks were one out away from advancing. However, during the next La Plata at-bat, the ball got passed the Decatur catcher allowing the tying run to score. The next La Plata batter walked, putting runners on the corners with two outs again. Donohue attempted to pick off the runner at first and the ball sailed wide of the bag, allowing the winning run to score from third.