Top-seeded Boys’ Latin had many heroes in its 7-4 win over Severn in the finals of MIAA B Conference Baseball Tournament, Tuesday afternoon at Ripken Stadium, but a pair stood out as brothers Zach and Sam Grace, the team’s battery, each came up with big games to lead the Lakers to their first MIAA baseball title since 2008 and only their second overall.
Zach Grace, a junior, pitched six scoreless frames, allowing just three hits to earn the win. His brother Sam, a freshman, served as his catcher and came up with a RBI single in BL’s 3-run first and was on base two other times with a walk and a hit by pitch.
“I’m not going to lie. I was a little nervous at first, but after the first inning I kind of calmed down. A couple of big hits in the first inning got us three runs and that really settled me in,” said Zach Grace, who struck out four and worked his way around 4 walks and a hit batter.
“He really hits his spots well. I love calling pitches for my brother. I love how our team had his back,” said Sam Grace.
Boys’ Latin coach Bill Greenwell also knew he could count on his ace.
“Zach has been our go-to guy all year. He kind of ran out of gas, but he just has a lot of heart,” said Greenwell. “He hung in there threw strikes and got outs.”
Boys’ Latin (14-6) broke on top in the first as it put a pair of runners on with a walk and a hit batsman. Sam Grace plated the first run with a single to left and Mark Lopez moved from first to third on the play. Courtesy runner Desmond Banks then stole second and both runners scored on a single to left-center by Max Keefe.
The Lakers added a single run in the third. Keefe led-off with a bloop single to right and moved to third when the Admirals (13-11) threw away a sac bunt by Marquise Washington. Cole Jarrett then knocked in the run with a long sac fly to left.
BL went on to add single runs in the 4th, 5th and 6th innings to build a 7-0 lead, before holding off a wild 7th inning rally by Severn, as the Admirals scored 4 times in the final frame.
Lopez ripped a screaming line drive over the left-center fence for a solo home run in the 4th, Washington had a single and scored on a passed ball in the 5th, and Lopez scored from third on a double steel in the 6th.
With J.P. Woodward on to pitch the final inning for the Lakers, Severn rallied, with one down, as Evan Gore was hit by a pitch, Jack Elstner doubled to deep centerfield and Rick Treanor walked to load the bases. An infield pop accounted for the second out before Tyrek Thornton and Sam Roeder drew consecutive RBI walks, leading to a bizarre final play of the contest.
With the bases still loaded, Severn’s Brendan Gauthier hit a ground-ball to short, which was fielded, but the throw to first was errant. Two runs scored, but Gauthier was gunned down trying to advance to second by Keefe, setting off a wild celebration for the Lakers.
Ryan Jack started for Severn and lasted just one-third of an inning, allowing 2 runs, 2 hits and a walk. He also hit a batter.
“I love it. I had 21 kids. I almost had too many good players,” said Greenwell. “Most of those guys could start for every other team in this conference. Great speed and the middle of the lineup really came through.”
With all of the rain, it has been a difficult journey for the Lakers, who were in uniform at Ripken on Monday, ready to play, before the contest was postponed. However, according to Greenwell, it did not phase his Lakers.
“My motto has been we’ll play anybody, any where at any time,” said Greenwell. “We were ready and it showed today.”
“This is Coach Greenwell’s first championship. They have been here three of the last four years. I was through it last year,” said Zach Grace. “It was tough and we came back stronger and we did the job.”
MIAA B CONFERENCE BASEBALL CHAMPIONSHIP
@ RIPKEN STADIUM
BOYS’ LATIN 7, SEVERN 4
SEV 000 000 4 — 4 4 1
BL 301 111 x __ 7 7 3
WP: Z. Grace. LP: Jack.
2B: SEV – Elstner 2.
HR: BL – Lopez
RBI: SEV – Thornton, Roeder; BL – Keefe 2, S. Grace, Jarrett, Lopez.