ABERDEEN, Md. — After the ball landed in left field, Old Mill shortstop Xander Waddell leaped off first base, raised his right fist into the air and waited for the dogpile to arrive.
It did — coming moments after Waddell’s single scored Eric Mondragon to lift the Patriots to a 4-3 victory over No. 2 Sherwood in nine innings in the Maryland 4A baseball championship game at Ripken Stadium.
The Patriots’ second walk-off this week secured their first state championship since 2003 and the fourth in program history.
“I was just trying to get the ball to the outfield and hopefully get the runner in,” Waddell said. “It felt like I was up there for just a regular AB. I saw it like, ‘It’s not hard to do a job here.’
With runners on the corners, Patriots first baseman Shayne Smith singled to score a run. The tying run came in on an overthrow to third base.
In the ninth, the Patriots loaded the bases with no outs. Waddell has dreamed about winning the state title since his freshman year, and the senior was up to the moment. The Maryland Eastern Shore commit drove the ball to left field, and Mondragon trotted home to secure Old Mill’s 12th consecutive win.
Pitcher Kevin Curran, who earned the win Tuesday against Whitman, got his second victory this week against the Warriors.
Nearly five weeks ago, the Patriots sat three games under .500. Players said they knew they had the talent to contend for a state crown but didn’t know how quickly they could turn around their season after returning key players from injury in late April.
Chaffin, who had been looking forward to this campaign since he took over the Anne Arundel County program three years ago, knew his team could battle back from deficits. It rallied in its second-round playoff loss to Severna Park last year before falling by a run.
The main reason for that confidence is his strong senior class, including Waddell. After the dogpile, Waddell savored his final moments in an Old Mill jersey. He jogged toward the Patriots’ student section with his fingers pointed toward it and let out a yell.
“We knew we could do it from the beginning,” Waddell said. “It’s surreal now.