The Wildcats defeated Loch Raven 3-0 on Thursday night in one of two Maryland Class 2A state semifinals at the University of Maryland. Patuxent defeated Patterson Mill 6-1 in the other semifinal and will face Williamsport on Saturday at 1 p.m. in the championship game at Cal Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen, Md.
To think this is where Williamsport (14-9) would be at this time of year might be a surprise.
After a slow start on and off the field, and then the death of ace pitcher Brendon Colliflower, the Wildcats have been running on pure adrenaline.
“We have all the motivation for No. 6 (Colliflower’s number),” said Zach Lucas.
“After the accident it would have been tough to think this is where we could be right now,” said coach David Warrenfeltz. “It’s not the path we would have wanted to take, but we’re playing good and it is at the right time.
Lucas worked five innings of four-hit shutout ball, erasing two threats. He also provided the offense the Wildcats needed.
Leading off the bottom of the third in a scoreless deadlock, Brandon Allen singled and moved to second on a walk to Aaron Greene. On a 2-1 pitch, Lucas roped a line drive down the right-field line to break the ice and give the Wildcats a 2-0 lead.
“I got an inside fastball,” said Lucas. “I just wanted to get us on the board.”
The Wildcats added a third run in the fourth when Riley Arnone walked, stole second, took third on a wild pitch and scored on another wild pitch.
Lucas wiggled out of two jams to keep the shutout going.
In the third, he walked Jack Moseley to open the inning and Adam Boudouris followed with a single. Jack Ranniger sacrificed the runners up and Ryan Flanigan walked to load the bases. But Lucas got a strikeout and Riley Arnone flagged down a deep fly by Logan Countryman to end the inning.
In the fifth, Moseley singled and Boudouris doubled to set up a potentially big inning. Lucas struck out Ranniger, and Flanigan followed with a liner to short that Brandon Toloso caught and, in one motion, flipped to Sinjin Shoop at second base for the inning-ending double play.
Tyler Byers came on in relief and got out of a pickle in the sixth. With one out and a runner on first, Sean Welling hit a bouncer to deep short that Toloso turned into a nifty force play. Byers got out of the inning with a strikeout of Ryan Oeschler.
Lucas struck out six and walked only one in his five innings. Byers worked the final two innings with two strikeouts to pick up the save.
“We had a stellar defense out there tonight,” Warrenfeltz said. “Zach didn’t have his very best tonight, really working with one pitch.”
Williamsport knocked out Loch Raven starting pitcher Adam Boudouris with one out in the first when Brandon Greene sent a liner off his right ankle that turned into an out. However, Boudouris struggled with his landing spot, walked the next two batters and was replaced in favor of Jake Ranninger.
Note: Handling the scoreboard duties in the press box was Patrick Sajak, a 21-year-old junior at The University of Maryland and, yes, the son of Wheel of Fortune game show host Pat Sajak.
Williamsport 3, Loch Raven 0
Loch Raven 000 000 0 — 0 6 0
Williamsport 002 100 x — 3 5 1
Boudouris, Ranninger (1), Welling (4) and Welling, Moseley (4). Lucas, Byers (5) and Butts. WP — Lucas (6-2). LP — Ranninger (3-2). S — Byers.