[Baltimore Sun] No. 10 Glenelg baseball outlasts River Hill, 1-0, in pitchers’ duel

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Glenelg and River Hill baseball knew runs would be hard to come by in Tuesday afternoon’s matchup, with each team expected to send their respective ace — Glenelg’s Nicholas Bilotto, a University of Delaware commit and River Hill’s Henry Zatkowski, a Duke University commit — to the mound.

The pitchers’ duel lived up to the billing as Bilotto and Zatkowski dominated the first four innings, keeping it scoreless.

However, Glenelg broke through in the fifth, playing small ball to produce what became the game’s only run in the Gladiators’ 1-0 win.

In Michael Tolle’s first at-bat, he struggled with Zatkowski’s slider. Before his fifth inning at-bat, Tolle told the Gladiators’ staff he was going to be sitting on a slider. The senior got what he was looking for on the first pitch and and a laced a lead-off double into the left-center field gap.

Blake Bourne advanced him to third on a bunt and Danny Dorsey did the same, placing a bunt down the first base line, scoring Tolle and giving the No. 10 Gladiators all the offense they needed.

“My friends said, ‘You’ve got lay down this bunt,’” Dorsey said. “I just got the job done. You’ve just got to get the bat out in front and just lay it down. I missed the first one, but I had three chances and I got it done.”

The Hawks threatened in the ensuing half inning with runners on first and second with one out. Bilotto didn’t waver, striking out Anderson Dang and Thomas Jayne to get Glenelg (8-1, 7-1 Howard County) out of the jam.

Those punchouts put the finishing touches on a dazzling 13-strikeout performance,. He constantly got in front of hitters and struck out the side twice by effectively mixing his fastball and off-speed pitches.

“It’s just all confidence,” Bilotto said. “You didn’t need to be all nervous because I know my abilities and what I’ve been doing all game. I wasn’t too worried.”

With Bilotto at over 90 pitches, James Westcott came on in the seventh. The junior picked up right where Bilotto left off and struck out three of the four hitters he faced to earn the save and secure Glenelg’s second consecutive shutout.

Both pitchers were in an early rhythm. Bilotto blew by the Hawks with a strong fastball, while Zatkowski utilized his off-speed pitches to his advantage. The aces combined to strike out 14 in the first four innings, allowing just four total hits.

Glenelg starting pitcher Nick Bilotto, dominated on the mound in Tuesday’s win over River Hill. (Jeffrey F. Bill/Staff photo)

River Hill starting pitcher, #9 Henry Zatkowski. Glenelg vs River Hill baseball at Glenelg High School. (Jeffrey F. Bill/Staff photo)

River Hill #11 Thomas Jayne, misplays a throw to 1st in the 2nd inning. Glenelg vs River Hill baseball at Glenelg High School. (Jeffrey F. Bill/Staff photo)

River Hill third baseman #19, Ryan Walsh, makes a play on a ground ball between short and 3rd for the out in the 2nd inning. Glenelg vs River Hill baseball at Glenelg High School. (Jeffrey F. Bill/Staff photo)

River Hill left fielder, #12 CJ Grove just misses a shot to left in the 3rd inning. Glenelg vs River Hill baseball at Glenelg High School. (Jeffrey F. Bill/Staff photo)

Glenelg 1st baseman #22, Ty Whittaker makes a play on a grounder to 1st in the 3ed inning. Glenelg vs River Hill baseball at Glenelg High School. (Jeffrey F. Bill/Staff photo)

Glenelg short stop #19, Blake Bourne makes a play on a grounder to short in the 4th inning. Glenelg vs River Hill baseball at Glenelg High School. (Jeffrey F. Bill/Staff photo)

Glenelg #22, Ty Whittaker lays down a bunt for a base hit in the 4th inning. Glenelg vs River Hill baseball at Glenelg High School. (Jeffrey F. Bill/Staff photo)

River Hill starting pitcher, #9 Henry Zatkowski. Glenelg vs River Hill baseball at Glenelg High School. (Jeffrey F. Bill/Staff photo)

Glenelg starting pitcher, #4, Nick Bilotto. Glenelg vs River Hill baseball at Glenelg High School. (Jeffrey F. Bill/Staff photo)

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In the later innings, Bilotto excelled with his slider, a pitch the junior worked diligently on in the offseason. Earlier in the season, Bilotto struggled at times with his command. However, he walked just one Tuesday, keeping River Hill (6-4, 6-3) off the base paths.

It’s not the first time the Gladiators won a pitchers’ duel. Eight days earlier, Glenelg got the best of Centennial’s ace Cade Ahearn in a 2-1 walk-off win.

Glenelg coach Steve Tiffany highlighted the value of playing challenging games early in the season.

“When you get to the playoffs, everything’s magnified, everything’s tripled and quadrupled,” Tiffany said. “You’re going to see good arms and we haven’t flinched in 14 innings against two of the best. Cade was as good as I’ve ever seen him a couple weeks ago and Henry is as good as we’re going to see locally. Henry struck out a lot of guys, but our kids had good at-bats. They didn’t flinch, they competed.”

These contests also are a testament to the Gladiators’ game-by-game philosophy.

Our philosophy always is if we get good pitching — we did — we play good defense — I thought we played really good defensively — if we can get a timely hit or put down a timely bunt, we’re going to be tough to beat and that’s what we live by,” Tiffany said.

River Hill — 000 000 0 — 0 3 1

Glenelg — 000 010 X — 1 5 0

WP: Nicholas Bilotto; LP: Henry Zatkowski.

2B: G- Blake Bourne and Michael Tolle.

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