MAUGANSVILLE — Dillon Waters is no Sylvester Stallone, but he still makes a heck of a leading man.
Waters had his “Rocky” moment on Sunday. The one when he uses self motivation to accomplish anything and everything — only without the horns in the background.
Northern Calvert’s starting pitcher was on his game — and he knew it — as he struck out 12 over 5 2/3 innings to lead the District 7 champs to a 4-2 victory over Çonococheague in the second round of the Maryland State 11-12 Tournament at Maugansville Little League’s Jay W. Stouffer Field.
“I woke up this morning and just started mentally preparing for this game,” Waters said. “I have pitched for this team for two years and this was our biggest game of the year.”
Waters was the master at his craft. Besides recording 12 of the 17 outs he pitched via strikeout, he allowed only one of the remaining five putouts to leave the infield. He used his curve to perfection, totally baffling Conococheague for the first five innings.
“We came in here with a chip on our shoulder,” Waters said. “We knew coming in that Conococheague was the best team in the tournament and knew they were a fastball-hitting team. I knew I had my stuff and I had my team behind me.”
Northern Calvert advances to the winners’ bracket final at 7 p.m. on Tuesday against Elkton, while Conococheague returns today at 7 p.m. to fight for its tournament life in a losers’ bracket game against West Salisbury.
Waters kept Conococheague off the scoreboard until he reached his 80th overall pitch in the sixth inning. Jake Arnone hit a double to center and scored on Levi Taylor’s homer to left as Conococheague cut its 4-0 deficit in half.
But it was too little, too late.
“Their pitcher threw a very, very good game,” said Conococheague manager Pat Taylor. “We need to hit better and field better. Congratulations to their team.”
Waters was lifted with two outs in the sixth because of the pitch limit, allowing reliever Justin Hitt to get the last out. It was a near-flawless performance.
“(Waters) did a phenomenal job,” said Northern Calvert manager Steve Kingsbury. “I looked at our catcher (Kyle Kingsbury) and he said ‘I got it. I know what to call.’ He only missed one spot today, and they hit it over the fence.”
Conococheague, the District 1 champs and host team, came into the game using a philosophy of trying to win every inning to win the game. It lost two of the first three frames and lost the game.
Northern Calvert touched Conococheague starter Isaac Schlotterbeck for three runs on just one hit in the second inning. Northern batted around, using Brady Waters’ two-out, two-run single to highlight the rally.
Schlotterbeck hit leadoff batter Jimmy Gentry with a pitch — the first of two in the inning — and walked three others, while uncorking two wild pitches. Conococheague added a throwing error to help Northern Calvert build the 3-0 lead.
Northern scored its last run in the third as Gentry reached on an error, took second on Kyle Kingsbury’s grounder and advanced to third on a passed ball before scoring on another error to hand Dillon Waters a four-run lead.
Arnone led Conococheague with two of the team’s four hits. Northern Calvert won despite collecting just two hits.
“The boys played with a lot of heart and determination,” Steve Kingsbury said. “Conococheague is a strong and powerful team. We knew we were in for a battle.”