Homer keys North Point baseball to win over H-town
By AJ MASON
The North Point baseball team crowned its king of the day after Tuesday’s Southern Maryland Athletic Conference contest versus visiting Huntingtown.
His name is Kevin Hodgson.
Tuesday was a completion from of a suspended game from last Friday where Huntingtown had a 2-1 lead with one out in the third inning when the game was called for weather. The bases were loaded with Hodgson on the mound.
When played picked back up, Hodgson, a sophomore, shut down the high-powered Huntingtown offense and had a three-run home run in the fourth to key North Point to a 4-2 victory.
Hodgson allowed just two runs, both coming in the third, and struck out eight in a complete-game effort.
“They’re a good hitting team, no doubt about that. You always have to keep your pitches around the strike zone,” said Hodgson, who only yielded five hits total, just one when play resumed Tuesday. “Huntingtown’s going to hit it no matter what. I always have trust in my defense, that’s what we are known for here at North Point.”
Nothing was bigger than Hodgson’s three-run blast with one out in the fourth off of Huntingtown senior ace Joey Strain.
“I knew [Strain] threw hard, I was looking fastball,” Hodgson said. “I just put the bat out there. It was a luck thing, I didn’t know it was gone until someone said something. That was huge for our team, and when we gain momentum that’s what carries us.”
“Kevin was a lot sharper today than he was Friday, and so was our defense,” North Point head coach Bill Chichester said. “Kevin is a strong hitter and hits home runs in practice all the time, but Strain throws hard, Kevin just made good contact.”
Strain finished with four strikeouts, yielded three hits, and came in for starter Jared Ash, who pitched the first two innings Friday.
Before the big homer, Strain hit senior Jeremy Remalia and gave up a base hit to sophomore Austin Bentley with one out.
“Credit to them for swinging the bats,” Huntingtown head coach Guy Smith said. “We didn’t put any pressure on them, we had all the momentum Friday with the rain and they took it back today. We had key mistakes today.”
Bentley, also the team’s center fielder, made a key catch for the second out in the top of the seventh on a shot hit from Huntingtown’s Brian Warner that could of resulted in a double.
“The ball hit to me was a game-changing situation,” Bentley said. “If the ball went over my head, it would’ve put a lot of pressure on the team, so I just reached up and grabbed it.”
Coming off of Monday’s 5-4 victory over Lackey, the Eagles (17-3, 10-2 SMAC) finished runner-up in the conference to La Plata (15-5, 10-2). Despite both teams having the same SMAC record, the Warriors won the SMAC title on head-to head tiebreaker.
La Plata and North Point split the regular season series where the Warriors won 6-0 on April 20 in the SMAC contest and the Eagles won the nonconference game 5-0 on March 23.
“Today was big for us,” said Chichester, whose team defeated Huntingtown 12-2 in a nonconference contest on March 30. “It was all about the senior pride, and we are looking forward to the playoffs.”
The Hurricanes (15-5, 8-4) were led by Tommy Labriola, who finished with three hits in the game, including two last Friday.
Huntingtown earned the No. 2 seed in the Class 3A South Region playoffs and is looking to get back on track when they host county rival and seventh-seed Northern at 4 p.m. Monday in the quarterfinals.
“When you lose two in a row, things start going bad. We aren’t staying together as a team and guys have to lose the attitudes,” Smith said. “We are going to rebound the next few days and go at it Monday.”
North Point drew the No. 2 seed in the 4A East bracket and will take on the winner of Friday’s first rounder between Anne Arundel County outfits No. 7 North County and No. 10 Chesapeake at 4 p.m. Monday in the quarterfinals.