Not long after the brackets were posted for the upcoming Maryland regional baseball playoffs that get under way on Friday, Poolseville High School coach Steve Orsini had already disected the 2A West Region draw where his Falcons are considered the favorites.
Poolesville (17-0) coasted through the early part of its schedule against soft opposition, but there was nothing easy about the latter portion of the Falcons' slate. They narrowly defeated Montgomery Blair, Sherwood, Seneca Valley, Bethesda-Chevy Chase and Gaithersburg, considered one of the favorites to claim the 4A state title this spring, over the past two weeks.
“Really, now the goal is to just get to Wednesday,” said Orsini, whose team will face the winner of Friday's Winters Mill-Francis Scott Key game on Monday. “At this stage, everybody is 0-0 and one bad inning, really, can end your season. You can't look past anybody. I am glad we had a lot of tough games at the end of the schedule to help get us ready for the playoffs because now they all start getting tough.”
Poolesville is in section II along with South Carroll and in the same region with Middletown, which opens against the winner of Friday's Oakdale-Catoctin game. Oakdale earlier upended Riverdale Baptist, 5-4, while Catoctin is the defending 2A state champion.
Poolesville is looking to earn a spot in the Maryland Class 2A state semifinals at Blair on May 20. The Montgomery County 4A teams, most of which are in the 4A West Region bracket while several others are in the 4A North, are seeking to reach Shipley Field at the University of Maryland for the state semifinals. The 3A state semifinals will be held at Joe Cannon Stadium. All four Maryland state title games are scheduled for May 23-24 at Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen.
Montgomery County could conceivably have two teams in the 4A state title game. Gaihersburg is the favorite to win the 4A West Region that includes Blair, Thomas S. Wootton and defending region champion Winston Churchill. Sherwood is among the favorites in the 4A North, where Perry Hall looms as their main competition. The Trojans and Warriors could meet in the 4A state title game at Ripken Stadium on May 23.
Bowie (18-2) is the favorite to win the 4A South Region title this spring, although to get there the Bulldogs would likely have to upend either Henry A. Wise or Eleanor Roosevelt in the sectional final first. Wise and Roosevelt split their season series and Bowie just got past the Pumas, 5-4, in their most recent encounter.
“Right now I really like the fact that we're being very patient at the plate and taking a lot of walks,” said Harris, whose team has drawn 160 walks this year. “We're not chasing pitches and we're waiting for good pitches to hit and if they're not there, we're taking the walks. Defensively, we've been good all season and obviously I'm pleased with that.”
Before embarking on its bid for the 4A South Region title and a berth at the University of Maryland's Shipley Field for the state semifinals, Bowie plays host to Suitland in the Prince George's County Championship game at 5 p.m. Thursday. The game was originally scheduled for Wednesday afternoon but postponed by rain.