HYATTSVILLE – Trailing by four runs in the fifth inning with one of the county’s top pitchers warming up, Northwestern High School’s baseball team seemed left for dead. But a furious comeback and errors by Laurel High School’s baseball team gave Northwestern a walkoff 8-7 victory in the 4A South Region semifinals. Kevin Ramirez, Brian […]
HYATTSVILLE – Trailing by four runs in the fifth inning with one of the county’s top pitchers warming up, Northwestern High School’s baseball team seemed left for dead.
But a furious comeback and errors by Laurel High School’s baseball team gave Northwestern a walkoff 8-7 victory in the 4A South Region semifinals.
Kevin Ramirez, Brian Davila and A.J. Hardy all hit run-scoring singles for the Wildcats, who scored four runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to tie the game at 7-7.
In the sixth inning the game turned into a pitcher’s duel—between Laurel ace Tyler Carmen and Rafael Calcano, a Northwestern sophomore from the Dominican Republic. The two pitchers combined for seven strikeouts in the sixth and seventh innings as Carmen overpowered the Wildcats with his fastball while Calcano dominated with his sharp, breaking curveball.
“I knew that was the point that we had to stop them from scoring runs,” said Northwestern head coach Chris Burrows. “(Calcano) has got the best chance. He doesn’t walk runners, he’s going to throw strikes and he’s going to make people miss.”
Laurel coach Don Cleveland said he could have brought Carmen in earlier, but he wanted the young righthander to go only two innings.
“He wasn’t going to go back out there in the eighth,” Cleveland said. “I wanted him to pitch two and that’s why I brought him in the sixth.”
In the bottom of the seventh, Carmen struck out Ramirez but fell behind in the count against Davila. The senior catcher, playing in his first game back since suffering an arm injury earlier in the season, hit a squibbler to the shortstop but reached base and advanced to second base on a throwing error. Then, with Hardy at bat, Davila stole third base and came home safely after the catcher threw the ball away.
“The yearbooks already went out but this would have been my most memorable moment, stealing home,” Davila said.
Having faced Carmen during the summer and the season before, Davila said he knew what to expect when he came to bat.
“Contact, I knew contact with his fast pitching means a hard-hit ball,” Davila said. “I was hoping for the best.”
Earlier in the game Laurel held a 4-1 advantage as Ramirez, who started on the mound for Northwestern, struggled with his command. After Northwestern scored in the fourth inning with back-to-back triples by Ramirez and Davila to cut the score to 4-3, Laurel came back in the top of the fifth to add three more runs.
Ramirez threw four and two-thirds innings, struck out six hitters and gave up seven runs on six hits. He also walked four batters. On the other side, Laurel starter Nash Persaud pitched five innings, striking out seven batters, giving up seven runs on six hits and walking four.
Despite trailing, Burrows said he told his team not to give up.
“I told them, we don’t quit. There is no quit in us. We are going to keep playing until the last out of the game,” Burrows said. “Kevin was a little down after I pulled him out of the game. They made some errors behind him which I understand, but this game is far from over. Our bats are going to get those runs back.”
For Laurel, Cleveland said the team will look back on the game as one with missed opportunities.
“We were sitting pretty there going into the bottom of the fifth. We were up four. Up four in baseball with three innings to go isn’t anything. We could have helped ourselves out by scoring a run here and there in the last three innings and we didn’t,” Cleveland said. “We were confident going in there and we had our pitcher in there that we wanted in there. We just sat there stagnant at the plate the last two innings, not even trying to put the ball in play. It is very disappointing. I wasn’t mad at them. We made too many throws in the field that we didn’t need to make.”