After dropping its Region XX tournament opener to Potomac State on Sunday, HCC's baseball team found itself down six runs early to Chesapeake.
Sure, the Hawks may have been down, but they were far from out.
Having pulled to within three runs in the seventh, HCC used a dramatic four-run eighth to take its first lead of the game and held on through a hairy ninth to win 11-10 over the Skipjacks at Municipal Stadium.
Geraghty Showe's sacrifice fly opened the Hawks' scoring in the eighth. Garrett Spinks' two-run double to right center tied the game at 10-10 before Brandon Toloso reached on a throwing error by Skipjacks shortstop Matthew Wojciechowski, bringing home pinch-runner Victor Norris from second base.
"I know the guys were sky high after the game," Hawks coach Scott Jennings said. "It definitely was a grind, it wasn't pretty all the time, but we did what we had to do when we had to do it."
Spinks and Quin Ambeault each had three RBIs, with Ambeault also getting three hits and walking twice. Justin Smith had two hits, walked three times and drove in a run, Sinjin Shoop walked twice and had two hits, and Matt Kline scored three runs.
Patrick O'Connor (4-0) picked up the win for the Hawks (36-18-1) with two innings of scoreless relief.
O'Connor allowed a leadoff walk and subsequent single in the ninth, but induced a foul popup and two fly outs to escape.
Trailing 7-1 heading into the bottom of the third, the Hawks pulled closer behind an RBI double by Smith and an RBI single from Ambeault.
Opportunities for more scoring were there for the Hawks throughout the game, but some bad breaks and bounces seemed to foil them at every turn.
In the fourth, Skipjacks starter Ty Michaud walked the bases loaded with one out, but Hunter Martin lined into an unassisted double play at third base.
Ambeault struck again in the fifth, lining a two-run double to make it 7-5. Jason Paredes walked to put two runners on, but again the Skipjacks escaped further issues by way of the double play — this time going around the horn to get out of the inning.
With two runners on and two out in the sixth, Toloso was picked off second base by pitcher Brian Tribbett. The Skipjacks capitalized in the top of the seventh, scoring three runs on two sacrifice flies and a wild pitch to make it 10-5.
HCC inched closer in the seventh behind a bases-loaded walk to Spinks and Shoop's RBI single with two out to make it 10-7.
"Seemed like we we had guys on base every inning, but we hit into some double plays, had a guy picked off," Jennings said. "It was like, when are we gonna break through? But we grinded through it, and we came up big when we needed to."
The Hawks dropped the first game 5-1 to the Catamounts, scoring only on a solo home run by Smith in the ninth inning.
Ambeault and Showe each had two hits, with Showe also walking twice.
Andrue Hughart (7-3) pitched a complete game for the Catamounts, scattering eight hits and three walks while striking out three. Jordan Tapley picked up his first loss of the season, allowing four earned runs over 6 1/3 innings. He gave up six hits, four walks and struck out three.
Harford defeated the Catamounts 8-4 in the late game Sunday, setting up a rematch between HCC and Potomac State at noon Monday at Municipal Stadium. Should the Hawks win, they will play Harford at 3 p.m.
— Jamison C. West