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Three outs.

That is all that stood between the Calvert Cavaliers and a spot in the Class 2A state baseball semifinals, as the Cavaliers took the field in the top of the seventh inning of Saturday afternoon's 2A South Region championship game with a 3-1 lead over the visiting Southern Bulldogs of Anne Arundel County.

Unfortunately for Calvert, those outs proved quite elusive. The first out of the inning did not come until a sacrifice fly by Southern's Dillon Waters that tied the game. By the time the Cavaliers finally got the third out, four different pitchers had thrown in the inning and the Bulldogs had scored four times to go ahead 5-3, which stood to be the final score.

Southern (15-9 overall), the second seed in the region's Section II advanced to play Hereford of Baltimore County in the 2A semifinals on Tuesday, while Calvert, the second seed in the region's Section I, was denied in its attempt to win its third regional title since 2007. It was the first regional championship for the Bulldogs since 2005.

With the No. 6, 7 and 8 hitters set to come up in the top of the seventh, Calvert (15-8) seemed to have things well in hand. But walks to the first four batters of the inning pushed one run across the plate and left the bases loaded still without an out.

Waters then hit the game-tying sacrifice fly to center field, while Truman Thomas, who had hit a solo home run in the first, followed up with an RBI single to score DJ Coleman with the go-ahead run. Steve Hogan added an RBI single later in the inning to provide an insurance run.

“We didn't close it at all,” Calvert head coach Travis Mister said. “There are a lot of what-ifs, but we just didn't execute what we had to do. We had the bottom part of their order up. It was a perfect situation. We couldn't throw it across the dish and they sat there and took pitches, which was a good move on their part. They get one or two hits and that's it.”

Through five innings, Southern had only the first-inning home run and a walk in terms of runners on base. In the sixth, Garrett Gibson was hit by a pitch with two outs and Hogan beat out an infield single.

Connor McCowan was then seemingly hit by a pitch, but the plate umpire ruled that he was hanging over the plate to extend the at-bat which ultimately ended with McCowan striking out to end the threat and preserve Calvert's two-run lead.

With the bottom of the order due up in the seventh, the sequence could have deflated the Bulldogs. Instead the team rallied to steal the victory.

“We've told the kids all year we have to keep fighting and fighting and fighting. You can only control what you can control,” Southern head coach Frank Hood said. “Ultimately, in the sixth inning we had a little bit of a downer with the hit batsman that he called back. That could have devastating for our team, but we didn't let it hurt us and just kept going.”

Pitching with the lead for the first time since early in the game, Hogan went out in the bottom of the seventh and set the Cavaliers down in order to seal the regional title for the visitors.

“Top of the seventh we got a few guys on, got a few things going our way and caught on fire. I'm speechless, honestly,” he said of the events of the seventh inning, adding of his mindset heading back out to the mound, “Mostly just that I had faith in the guys behind me. I know I don't have to strike anybody out. I have a heck of a team behind me.”

Hogan allowed three runs on four hits, did not walk a batter and struck out three in the complete-game win.

Calvert scored a pair of runs in the second when Trevor Suchter and Jacob Roberts opened the inning with back-to-back singles. Dakota Greening, running for Suchter, scored the Cavaliers' first run on Nicholas Paddy's sacrifice fly, while Roberts later came across the plate on Connor Kissinger's RBI groundout to give the hosts a 2-1 advantage through two.

The lead was extended to 3-1 in the third when Jeremy Pope singled, stole second, moved to third on a groundout and scored on a wild pitch.

On the mound for Calvert, Suchter essentially cruised until running into the jam with two outs in the sixth. After allowing the solo round-tripper to Thomas in the first, Suchter set down 16 of the next 18 batters he faced, allowing just a walk and runner that reached on an error during that span. In all, he worked six-plus innings, was responsible for two runs on just two hits and two walks – including the first walk of the seventh. He struck out three.

The loss ended on a disappointing note a season in which the Cavaliers enjoyed a good deal of success. Calvert had an eight-game win streak during April, including two in its own tournament over spring break.

“I think overall it was a good season,” Mister said. “We started off slow, had a hiccup there towards the end. But the way two or three of these seniors stepped up towards the end of the season, that is something to be proud of. They're a great bunch of kids. They played well together and complement each other well. We had a good mix of pitching, offense, defense. We had a good season.”

Southern 5, Calvert 3

Southern 100 000 4 – 5 4 1

Calvert 021 000 0 – 3 4 2

WP Hogan, LP Shenk

Extra-base hits: HR – Thomas (S)