In a battle of undefeated baseball teams, Severna Park (17-0) and Sherwood (14-0), one championship-worthy team had to lose on June 18. Unfortunately for the Falcons, it was not their night, as Sherwood seized a 5-4 lead in the eighth inning of the 4A state championship at Regency Furniture Stadium in Waldorf to earn the title.
After the game, the Severna Park players and coaches were upset, but they refused to view the season as anything other than a triumph.
“It’s been nothing but positive the whole season,” said Severna Park head coach Eric Milton. “It’s been a blast. Going into the season not knowing where the end game would be — there was no playoffs at the start of the season — but look at where we are. It’s just been a lot of fun this year. Tough way to end it, but it’s been outstanding.”
It was an outstanding season for Severna Park, from a 15-5 win over Chesapeake on May 7 to start the season, to a 20-0 rout of Laurel in the state semifinals. The Falcons dominated their schedule and some players set personal records in the process. Jackson Merrill slugged 12 home runs, one short of a state record set by Brunswick hitter Kevin Goode in 1999 and tied by Hammond’s Brian Brewer in 2000, although Merrill got his in just 15 games.
A shortstop committed to Kentucky University, Merrill may be picked in the Major League Baseball draft during July 11-13. This last season with the Falcons boosted his draft stock as he made memories with his teammates.
“I think the season was amazing,” Merrill said. “The team got along well all throughout the season. That playoff game against Broadneck, there were so many fans and scouts there, the atmosphere was incredible.”
After that 4-0 win over Broadneck on June 9, Severna Park added playoff victories over Leonardtown, Howard and Laurel.
The Falcons were seeking to win their first state title since 2009, and for the coaches, soothe the sting from the 2018 4A state championship game when they lost on a 5-4 walk-off against Howard at Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen.
The 2021 game seemed destined to end better for the Falcons, yet it left them with a familiar feeling.
Pitcher Nick Carparelli III had a flawless first inning, getting a groundout and two strikeouts. A double play eliminated a scoring threat in the second, and a successful pickoff erased a Sherwood baserunner in the third. Warriors pitcher Brett Seils matched Carparelli’s strong start until the Falcons’ offense came alive in the third inning.
Robert Weaver drew a leadoff walk and stole second base on a wild pitch. James Henson III got a bunt single down the first-base line, moving Weaver to third. Henson stole second. After a strikeout, an intentional walk to Merrill and another strikeout, the Falcons got two-out hits by Luke Herz and Daniel Key to go ahead 2-0.
Sherwood struck back in the fifth inning, getting two base hits. After a sacrifice bunt, the Falcons dropped a fly ball to give up the first Sherwood run.
“You can’t make mistakes against a good team like that,” Milton said. “They didn’t make many mistakes and we did.”
A steal and an infield hit tied the score at 2. Carparelli got a much-needed strikeout, but then a Nico Pernie double put Sherwood ahead 4-2 before Carparelli struck out another Sherwood batter to end the inning.
“That truly was a turning point in the game,” Carparelli said. “We had so many opportunities to get out of that inning, but Sherwood capitalized on the opportunities they were given. You’re going to have nerves and butterflies going into a game like that, so the team that can limit that and play more loose is going to have the best chance to win.”
There was no quit in the Falcons. In the same inning, Nick Marsella got a base hit. Merrill walked. Tucker McDonough singled and Herz drove a pitch into center field for a two-RBI double, tying the game at 4. Merrill relieved Carparelli on the mound and pitched two scoreless innings, but Severna Park could not regain the lead. They stranded a leadoff runner on third base after Drew Crowley’s double to right field in the sixth inning, and they left McDonough at second base in the seventh. In the eighth, Sherwood got an infield single from Pernie and a sacrifice bunt by Jake Becker before Ryan Bouma smoked a pitch up the middle for the 5-4 lead.
The Falcons had their chance in the bottom of the eighth inning, but Warriors pitcher Steven Tameris sealed his team’s win, getting two strikeouts and a flyball out.
Sherwood’s bench emptied as players rushed the mound to celebrate the win.
“I thought it was going to be a good ball game, and it was,” said Sherwood head coach Sean Davis. “It was two solid ball clubs, well coached, and they just went blow for blow, and we came out on top in the end.”
Davis, whose squad lost in the championship against Old Mill in 2019, was thrilled to witness a different outcome this time.
“These guys lost their season last year. We didn’t know if we were getting playoffs and then it turns out we did, and we go on a great run,” he said. “I’m just happy for the kids.”
While the Falcons did not leave Waldorf happy, with a championship plaque in hand, they have much to be proud of and to appreciate.
Carparelli, who is committed to Manhattan College, was grateful to his Severna Park basketball coach, Paul Pellicani, who attended the game to support him.
“We may remember the fifth inning or what we did personally, but we’re not going to remember every play of that game,” Carparelli said. “We will remember the friends and relationships that brought us together as a team.”
Severna Park has some returning players — Herz, Henson, McDonough, pitcher Michael Bowles and others — who made huge contributions to the 2021 team. Carparelli has advice for them as they strive to continue the program’s success.
“Try to have fun by playing as hard as you can, he said. “You can’t always do too much. You have to play your role on the team. Set goals for yourself.”
Merrill added, “Cherish it, because it feels weird once it’s over. It was an amazing year, especially after losing the season during my junior year. It’s been a privilege to play for Severna Park.”
The 2021 season is over, but it won’t be forgotten.
“Every day, I wanted to practice. I wanted to play with the guys,” Carparelli said. “We had a bond between us. We’ll be teammates for life.”
The 2021 Severna Park varsity baseball team was coached by Eric Milton and his staff. The roster included Jackson Merrill, Daniel Key, Robert Weaver, Drew Crowley, Connor Eaton, Evan Stefanovich, Sean Foreman, Ben Horgan, Daniel Parkison, Nick Carparelli III, Luke Herz, Clay Weaver, Nick Marsella, Ben McLay, Michael Bowles, Tucker McDonough, Ben Peacock, John Creps, Jimmy Miller, Andrew Bashor, James Henson III and Colton Adams.
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