Grand Slam And Pitching Key Severna Park Playoff Win Over James Bennett


Less than one inning. That’s how quickly Severna Park dispatched James Bennett’s starting pitcher in Saturday’s Class 3A East 1 region semifinal baseball game.

With that unrelenting offense, which included a Jackson O’Brien grand slam, and with a shutout from pitcher Sean Williams, the Falcons beat the visiting Clippers in five innings, 10-0.

Severna Park did not waste any time getting on the scoreboard after Williams pitched a nearly perfect first inning. Kody Phillips earned a leadoff walk and advanced to second base on a groundout. Angel Santiago-Cruz mashed a ball off the right-field fence, and James Bennett quickly unraveled with the pitcher allowing three runs on a combination of balks and wild pitches. But the Falcons earned their advantage too. Benji Beisler hit a single to score another run, giving Severna Park a 4-0 lead after one inning, with James Bennett turning to their second pitcher with only two outs in the contest.

From there, Severna Park did not let up.

Nick DiNunzio smacked a pitch over the James Bennett shortstop for a single and stole second base in the third inning. After a Beisler walk, Adam Clark laid down a perfect bunt that dribbled along the third-base line.

With the bases loaded, O’Brien came up to the plate and went first-pitch swinging, blasting a shot over the right-field fence for a grand slam that staked Severna Park to an 8-0 lead.

O’Brien’s first at-bat against the Clippers’ relief pitcher set the stage for that moment.

“He threw me a first-pitch fastball in the first at-bat, so I was sitting on that, got my weight back, saw it, curved it away,” O’Brien said. “I don’t really remember making contact. I kind of blacked out running around first base.”

Williams took it from there. After surrendering a leadoff double in the fourth inning, he induced a groundout, struck out a batter and got a flyout to extinguish the threat.

“When Sean gets on the mound, we’re all confident,” said Phillips, Severna Park’s catcher. “He locates pretty well and he throws very hard, so he keeps hitters off balance. He knows what to do with his pitches in certain spots and when to just blow by them.”

The Falcons extended their lead when Charlie Hartman slid into second base on a double, advanced to third on a fly ball and then scored on a Beisler RBI single.

During the region semifinals, the Falcons proved their lineup can produce from any spot.

“It’s great because say our six hitter doesn’t come through, our seven hitter is definitely going to come through and our eight hitter will keep going and it keeps rolling,” Phillips said. “And then even when we stop the rally and we come back in the next inning after we get out on defense, we keep rolling. The momentum doesn’t stop.”

Severna Park head coach Eric Milton said his team has been warming up with the weather and they are getting hot at the right time. Their last game was a 9-0 county championship victory over Arundel.

“I’m confident in the no. 9 hitter just as I am our leadoff hitter,” Milton said. “And they have been doing a great job, the county championship and today, of seeing a lot of pitches, battling, not chasing, really making the pitcher work. (They have been) getting a lot of walks, getting on base, and when you get on base, good things happen.”

As the No. 2 seed in the region, Severna Park will face the No. 1 seed, Stephen Decatur High School in Berlin, on Tuesday.

The Falcons feel they have put in the hard work to give themselves the chance at a deep playoff run, as the team seems to do every year.

“We have worked a lot on situational stuff: know when to put down bunts, learning how to react to certain situations and certain plays,” Santiago-Cruz said. “I’m super proud of these guys. It’s the same journey as these last two years. Once you get to the state playoffs, it’s single elimination and you just got to give it your all every time.”


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