HYATTSVILLE – In the fifth inning of a baseball game between Charles H. Flowers High School and Northwestern High School on March 29, the visiting Jaguars did not see many pitches to hit. So when Tremayne Cobb Jr. saw one he liked, he jumped on it.
Cobb was early on an inside fastball and pulled it foul, but when a similar opportunity came two pitches later, he did not miss it. The Hartford commit crushed the ball well over the left field fence and carried around the team’s faux-WWE title belt when he returned to the dugout.
“Games like this you just have to wait for that one pitch since you know you’re not going to get a lot,” Cobb said. “Once you get that one pitch, you have to capitalize on it.”
That homerun put the exclamation mark on a rout in which Flowers wreaked havoc on the basepath and took advantage of the Wildcats’ pitchers control issues, crushing the home team, 17-0, in a five-inning mercy rule contest.
It was the third-straight win to start the season for the Jaguars, who are 37-1 against Prince George’s county competition over the last three seasons. Flowers’ last loss against county competition came against Dr. Henry A. Wise Jr. High School in the 2017 Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association (MPSSAA) 4A South Sectional Semifinal.
But in the first inning, it didn’t look like the Jaguars were going to cruise to another victory.
They went 1-2-3 against Northwestern’s Elijah Tyler, and then the Wildcats first three runners reached base, but leadoff hitter Corey Brock was thrown out after being caught in a rundown when Tyler followed his walk with an infield single.
Javon Wright singled after that, and although Flowers pitcher Terrell Delaney got third baseman Ivan Fermin to fly out, a passed ball moved the runners to second and third. Delaney struck out Chris Johnson to get out of the jam, and he and his team settled down from there.
Delaney would pitch all five innings, allowing just four hits while striking out five.
“The first inning changeup wasn’t working as well as at the end,” Delaney said. “(I) start(ed) off more fastball, less off-speed, pound the zone first, (then) bring off-speed in.”
With Delaney controlling Northwestern (1-2), the Jaguars offense went to work. A single by junior Sean Cordero brought home sophomore Brandon Bradshaw in the second inning, and the floodgates opened from there. Flowers added three runs in the third inning, five in the fourth inning and eight in the fifth inning.
Northwestern Head Coach Joe Woodring said he limited his pitchers to 30 pitches so they could pitch the next day under MPSSAA rules. Every pitcher that followed Tyler struggled to command the strike zone. After the sophomore pitched the first two innings, the final four Wildcat pitchers walked seven batters, hit two more and had 10 passed balls.
“I had a couple of really good pitchers that graduated last year who could pitch a full game every time they were out,” Woodring said. “The pitchers I have this year, some of them are good, they just don’t have the endurance…So I have a bunch of new guys who are just learning to pitch and trying to get them game experience early in the season so they’ll be good by the end of the season.”
To make matters worse for Northwestern, Flowers stole seven bases, with Cobb leading the way with three and senior Christian Thompson swiping a pair.
The Wildcats had lost to Parkdale 15-12 the day before, who are also one of the top teams in the region.
“Even though the final score was out of hand I thought we played a better game than what the final score looked like,” Woodring said.
For the Jaguars, the start of a new season has allowed a new group to mesh together while still reaching towards a common goal. Flowers lost nine seniors from last year’s 4A South Regional champions, including some who had played together on the varsity team for the past three or four years, Head Coach George Brown said.
A strong start gives the returning, and new players hope that another deep playoff run is still possible.
“It lets the half that played on the team last year know that ‘Oh, we can still do this,’ and it lets the new players know that (they) can fit right in and make things happen still,” Brown said. “It is an adjustment that they’re making and giving them confidence right now.”