AMERICAN CORNER — Nathan Roth’s single through a drawn-in infield scored Remy Mangum to break a 2-2 tie in the bottom of the seventh inning Friday, May 17, lifting Colonel Richardson High’s baseball team to a 3-2 victory over Mardela in the Class 1A East Region championship.
The Colonels (22-0) advanced to the state semifinals for the first time since 2015, and took on defending state champion Boonsboro on Tuesday at 4 p.m. at McCurdy Field in Frederick. Boonsboro beat Northern Garrett 11-8 Friday to win the West title.
Mardela finished 16-6, and missed its first-ever state tournament appearance by one win.
“We can only go across the bridge when we’re 22-0,” Colonel head coach Dan Mangum said with a laugh after the win, the second time in his 10-year run at the helm that Colonel has been perfect through regionals. “We’ve won regional twice in my time as head coach. Each time we went 22-0 to do it. ... And we can only beat Mardela by one run. They’re good. We just got the last break.”
Senior right-hander Jamison Covey (8-0) pitched a complete game for the win. He struck out six, allowed five hits, walked one, and yielded two earned runs. Covey has allowed five earned all season in 54 innings, giving him a 0.65 earned-run average.
“I knew the guys had it in the bottom of the seventh,” said Covey, who has 71 strikeouts this season. “I thought we had it in the sixth, but knew in the seventh that we were going to win it. I had faith in them.”
Colonel scored its first run in the bottom of the third against Mardela starter Dylan Smith. Mason Lambert led off with a single, stole second, and scored on Remy Mangum’s single to center field three batters later.
Lambert walked to lead off the home fifth, advanced to second on Nate Brown’s sacrifice bunt, and scored on Tyler Stanley’s single for a 2-0 lead.
Covey, who allowed one base runner — Smith, who singled with one out in the top of the first, and was eventually stranded at third — through four innings, got help from his defense on two occasions in particular.
In the top of the third, Mardela’s Jake Taylor sliced a line drive to shallow center field. Jackie Zebron charged, but as he slowed down for the catch, his feet went out from under him and he landed on his backside. Zebron though reached out to snag the ball from a seated position for the first out.
After Covey gave up a leadoff hit in the fifth to Jacob Long, Colonel erased him six pitches later when it turned a 5-4-3 double play.
In the sixth, though, the Warriors, who were 2 for 16 before that, got on the board.
With two outs, Covey walked leadoff hitter Jaden Shelton. A moment later, as Covey put it, “I hung a changeup to Dylan Smith, who’s a good hitter, and (he) almost hit it out. And then I came back with a fastball that got too much plate, and the guy that hit it, grazed my shoulder barely.”
Smith’s double off the fence in deep right-center field scored Shelton from first. Ryan Teaman singled through the box to score Smith, tying the game 2-2. Teaman made second on the throw home, but got no further, as Covey got an inning-ending groundout.
Colonel, which stranded 11, squandered a bases-loaded opportunity in the bottom of the fifth when Roth — 2 for 2 at that point — fouled out to first to end the inning.
Long singled to begin Mardela’s seventh. Colton Lanham dropped a sacrifice bunt that Covey bobbled it as he whirled while deciding to throw to first or second. Both Long and Lanham ended up safe on the sacrifice and error.
But Covey struck out the next two hitters and induced Jacob Shelton’s dribbler back to the mound for the third out.
Colonel then got the last break.
“I knew we had the top of the order coming up,” Dan Mangum said of the bottom of the seventh, “and they’ve been good all year. We’re trying to hit the ball on the ground. But the first one up, hit it in the air to second base.
“But then Remy got a good pitch, and hit it on the ground,” Dan Mangum said, “and good things happened, so we went from there.
With one out, Remy Mangum slapped a grounder to the left side of the infield. Mardela’s Cade Nutter, playing third when Long came on to pitch, had the ball take a hop off the heel of his glove and bounce left. Mardela shortstop Teaman grabbed the ball in midair but his throw to first was not in time to get Mangum.
“I hit it so hard, I didn’t think he could possibly make the play,” Remy Mangum said of Teaman. “He made a good job of trying to get it up to get me, but I just beat it out.”
Zebron chopped a grounder to second base, and beat the throw for an infield single, putting the game-winning run in scoring position. Ty Scott, hitless in his first three plate appearances, then battled Long for seven pitches before lacing a single to center field.
“Jackie got an infield hit, and then Chucky (Scott) hit one hard to center field, for another hit. He actually hit it too hard,” Dan Mangum joked about Scott’s single to center field. “Remy couldn’t score on it. But Nathan came up, and Nathan really had a day today. He went, what, 3 for 4?
“Nathan came through again, and that seems to be the trend with him. He hit the one with Perryville to end it (Tuesday),” Coach Mangum continued. “And Jamison pitched a good game. ... It was Jamison’s game the whole time, just like Perryville was Chucky’s game the whole way. There was no thought of pulling him off the mound.”
The count was 1-1 before Roth fouled off two pitches.
“When I first stepped up there, I was telling myself, ‘you’ve gotta focus, you’ve gotta put the ball on the ground. You’ve got to score this run.’
“Then it gets to like 2-2, right? And ... I told myself, ‘this is the state championship on the line, this is everything,’” Roth added. “I didn’t see the ball. I’m trained to not look, so I didn’t know it was a hit until ... I was about three-quarters of the way up the first-base line and I heard everybody yelling.”
Roth’s swing hit the upper half of the ball, as Colonel coaches had been preaching all through a game. The ball bounced once in front of the mound, then went high over it and beyond the reach of a leaping Long. Teaman and second baseman Jaden Shelton also lunged for the ball but missed as it squirted into shallow center field.
Remy Mangum jogged home on the instant-winner as Colonel players, led by Stanley and Covey, mobbed Roth near first base.
“I’ve never been at the bottom of a dogpile,” Roth said with a chuckle. “It feels good. We got to do this in my last game here.”
Notes: Remy Mangum and Roth combined for a game-winning at-bat Tuesday too, Roth’s single off the left-field fence scoring Remy Mangum to wrap up an 11-1 Section I final victory over Perryville. ... The teams combined for five hits, four by the Colonels, through the first four innings. They had five each after that. ... Long was 2 for 3. ... Colonel is 1-1 in semifinal games at McCurdy, having won there in 2007 en route to its only state title, and lost there, 6-5 in eight innings, against McDonough in 2015. ... McDonough defeated Douglass, 16-0, for the South championship and played North champ Randallstown (which beat Forest Park, 15-1) in the second 1A semifinal Tuesday at McCurdy. ... Colonel went 3-0 against Mardela this year, including a 4-3 regular-season win and a 1-0 squeaker for the Bayside Conference championship May 7. ... Due to press deadlines, a full story on Colonel's state-semifinal game can be found in the May 22 edition of the Star Democrat.