When the Sherwood High School baseball team arrived at Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen for the 4A state championship game Friday evening, the Warriors were the last Montgomery County team still alive for a possible state title, but they were hardly the most likely pick to own that distinction.
Sherwood failed to capitalize on several scoring chances and suffered a 2-0 loss against Chesapeake. The Warriors managed only two hits and left seven runners on base, five of them in scoring position. The Cougars also managed only two hits in a pitchers’ duel, but one of them produced the two runs and that would prove to be the difference in the contest.
Sherwood (15-8) advanced through the 4A North Region and then dominated Eleanor Roosevelt 10-0 in the semifinals on the strength of a dominant, no-hit, 16-strikeout performance from Matt Chanin. That victory also enabled the Warriors to save senior left-handed ace pitcher Brady Adam for Friday’s state title game.
Through the first two innings against Chesapeake, Adam was able to avoid trouble. But in the third, the Cougars finally broke through. His counterpart, Andrew Spinneweber, stroked a lead-off double into the left field corner. Adam hit the next batter, John Drexel, then, after both runners completed a successful double steal, Chris Ruszin delivered a two-run single that scored both runners to give the Cougars a 2-0 lead. It was the last hit that Adam would allow.
“I was a little nervous at the start,” said Adam, who allowed four walks while striking out 15 Cougars and throwing strikes on 67 of 113 pitches. “I had a lot of nerves going through my mind. I think I was throwing a little too hard early, but I was able to settle down and relax after a couple of innings. They got the hit and got two runs and we never got the big hit.”
Chesapeake (24-2) had grown accustomed to limiting its opponents to few hits and even fewer runs during the postseason. Spinneweber continued a stellar trend for the Cougars, tossing the team’s fourth consecutive shutout and extending their scoreless innings pitched streak to 32 in the playoffs. Spinneweber issued three walks and struck out 13 batters, throwing strikes on 68 of 110 pitches.
“That hit that Chris got was huge,” Spinneweber said. “When I came back to the dugout, I told them that was all the runs I needed. I had that much confidence in myself and my defense. I have a great defense behind me, the best in the state. We worked hard to get here. We have four really good pitchers and Chris is just a stud.”
Spinneweber was also able to avoid early trouble. Adam started the game by reaching on an error by the Cougars’ second baseman and then Bailey Doan walked and both runners advanced on a sacrifice bunt by Neven Sussman. But Spinneweber escaped that jam when he fanned both Matt Chanin and Jake Paholski looking. Two innings later, Adam had the Warriors’ first hit, then stole second, but was stranded there when Doan and Sussman struck out.
In the top of the fifth, Sherwood again threatened but failed to score. Cameron Aud led off with a single then Patrick Dunn walked. After Matt Ervin successfully bunted both runners over, Adam was intentionally walked to load the bases. Doan struck out looking then Sussman struck out looking at a curveball that appeared well off the plate. Spinneweber would retire the side in both the sixth and seventh innings to seal the victory.
“We never came up with that key hit,” said Chanin. “I was part of it. I struck out looking with two on in the first. Their guy was hitting the spots. He had good command of his fastball and his curveball. He wasn’t afraid to throw his curveball even if he was behind in the count. It was a heck of a season. We had a great run to get to this point.”
Chesapeake 2, Sherwood 0
SH (15-8) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 — 0
CH (24-2 0 0 2 0 0 0 x — 2
WP: Andrew Spinneweber. LP: Brady Adam. 2B: CH — Andrew Spinneweber RBI: CH — Chris Ruszin 2