Reservoir catcher Ben Davis excels offensively and defensively to be named 2022 Howard County Times baseball Player of the Year

·8 min read

Jun. 7—Defense is perhaps one of the most underappreciated parts of a catcher's game. But that doesn't stop Reservoir senior Ben Davis from mastering the craft. His stellar play behind the plate served as the anchor for the Gators defense during their playoff run.

"I know that as the catcher, I'm one of the more important positions on the field," Davis said. "It's my job to make sure that people stay on the base and stay where they are. I don't give them any freebies by letting the ball pass me or give them an easy pitch right down the middle to hit every time. So, I definitely take pride in that part of my game and try to just be the best defensive catcher I can be."

Davis also played an integral role in the Gators lineup, batting primarily in the third spot. His offensive and defensive impact helped guide the Gators to the state semifinals for just the second time in program history. For his efforts, Davis has been named the 2022 Howard County Times/Columbia Flier baseball Player of the Year.

In addition to blocking pitches, Davis' strong arm was on the forefront of opponents' minds. The veteran threw out seven runners trying to steal bases.

"It's extremely rare," Reservoir coach Adam Leader said of Davis' defensive ability behind the plate. "In my 20 years, I've had two catchers that were at that caliber. I've had lots of good catchers, but I've had two. One is coaching with me now, Danny O'Hagan, who was the catcher of our state championship team, but did similar stuff.

[ A big second inning powers Reservoir baseball into state semifinals. ]

"To have that it's a rarity. I think a lot of people don't realize the impact that the catcher has on the game. Certainly when you lose a guy like Ben, the following year you see the impact that has more than anytime because you get used to it when you have it. We've had him for three years and that's the impact he's put onto our program."

Davis also showcased his power in the box. He finished with four home runs and eight doubles, both tied for the county lead.

His final home run of the season came in the Gators' 9-2 Class 3A state quarterfinal victory over Northern, breaking the game open. Complementing his power, he also excelled as a contact hitter with a .446 batting average, third highest in the county, and 20 RBIs, tied for second-most.

"He was the center of our offense," Leader said. "He was the big bat, able to hit extra-base hits or home runs. We kind of set up our offense for that at-bat. We did a lot of small ball ahead of him to get guys in scoring position so that he could take care of business. If guys walked him, we were pretty confident in the guys behind him to be able to get the job done. So, having his bat in our offense, kind of like his catching, was a big part of us feeling confident that we could score runs."

Beyond his play on the field, Davis' leadership helped serve as a role model for the younger players. In the offseason, he organized hitting sessions with his teammates, always looking to spend more time improving his game. Davis is continuing his baseball career at Division III McDaniel College.

"I loved McDaniel as soon as I took a tour of the campus and I met the coach," Davis said. "He seemed like a great guy and I thought he had a really great plan for the program the next upcoming years. I thought I would be a really good fit in their program. Just knowing this year that I had four more years of baseball, it let me enjoy the year more and not be too stressed about it all. I was just able to relax and play my game and be able to give my team the best chance to win."

Pitcher of the Year

Henry Zatkowski, sophomore, River Hill

In his first traditional varsity season, Zatkowski excelled as the Hawks' ace, helping guide them to the program's first county championship since 2016. He finished 5-0 with a county-best 0.60 ERA, striking out 44 in 35 innings. The sophomore also excelled at the plate with 15 hits and 12 RBIs.

First team All-County

Qwynn Ahearn, Centennial, junior, catcher

Ahearn tied Davis for the county league with four home runs including a grand slam that put the Eagles ahead of Howard in a regional semifinal win. He also had four doubles and four triples, and threw out eight runners attempting to steal.

Nathan Black, Howard, junior, utility

Black was the Lions go-to guy offensively throughout the season with a team-best .383 average. He finished the season with 18 hits, five RBIs and five steals.

Matthew Brathwaite, Reservoir, senior, outfield

The Gators leadoff hitter, Brathwaite finished tied for a team-high 25 hits and stole eight bases. Reaching base often with a .403 average and .524 on-base percentage, Brathwaite scored 22 runs, which ranked fourth-most in the county.

Mike Brogno, Mt. Hebron, sophomore, corner infield

Brogno was the Vikings' offensive leader with a pair of home runs. He also hit four doubles and had 18 RBIs with a .424 average and .507 OBP, finishing with a team-high 25 hits.

Alfonse Dello Russo, Glenelg, junior, outfield

Dello Russo was one of the top contact hitters in the county with 27 hits. Six of those hits were for extra bases. He scored a team-high 24 runs, also racking up 14 RBIs.

Nick Duvall, Glenelg, junior, corner infield

Duvall delivered when it mattered most for the Gladiators in the state championship with a go-ahead three-run double. He came up clutch often with a county-high 27 RBIs, including a pair of home runs. The junior also excelled on the mound with a 4-1 record and a 0.35 ERA in 39 2/3 innings pitched, including a flawless 6 2/3 in the state championship game.

Aidan Harris, Hammond, junior, middle infield

Harris tallied 19 hits also racking up nine stolen bases with a .404 average. He also added four doubles, and eight RBIs.

Zach LaFountain, Glenelg, sophomore, pitcher

In 49 2/3 innings, he struck out 56 with a 1.69 ERA and 1.12 WHIP. At the plate, seven of his 20 hits went for extra bases, racking up 15 RBIs and finishing with a .313 average.

[ Glenelg baseball wins a thriller to claim Class 2A state championship. ]

Dylan Melton, Glenelg Country, junior, utility

The UMBC commit had a team-high 24 RBIs and .420 batting average. He finished with 29 hits, nine for extra bases with a .545 OBP. Melton also excelled on the mound with a 2.02 ERA, sixth-best in school history and his 69 strikeouts are the second most by a Dragons pitcher in one season.

Eje Okojie, River Hill, junior, outfield

Okojie had a county-best .466 average, with 13 extra-base hits, including seven doubles and five triples, also a county-high. Okojie stole 13 bases and scored 26 runs.

Logan Pusheck, Glenelg, sophomore, middle infield

The Gladiators leadoff hitter, Pusheck posted a .403 average and tied the county-high with 29 hits. Seven of those were for extra bases, as the also sophomore tallied 15 RBIs and scored 23 runs.

Nick Russo, Marriotts Ridge, senior, pitcher

In his final season, the veteran finished with a 0.78 ERA, second-best in the county behind Zatkowski. He finished 4-1 with 63 strikeouts in 45 innings.

Liam Snow, Atholton, senior, utility

Snow had a .444 average and 28 hits, both top five in the county. He tallied seven doubles and nine stolen bases. Snow also found success on the mound striking out 30 in 25 2/3 innings pitched.

Travis Thompson, Reservoir, senior, corner infield

Thompson finished with 14 hits and eight RBIs for the state semifinalist Gators. He posted a .350 average and a .569 OBP.

Aidan West, Long Reach, freshman, middle infield

The North Carolina State University commit had a county-best 15 stolen bases and a .409 average. He also hit two home runs and five doubles.

Second team All-County

Caderyrn Ahearn, Centennial, senior, pitcher

Cooper Baer, Mt. Hebron, senior, catcher

Sam Cohen, Mt. Hebron, senior, utility

Quinn Dean, Reservoir, junior, middle infield

Tra Evans, Atholton, senior, outfielder

Brian Hammond, Glenelg Country, senior, middle infield

Will Kilcoyne, River Hill, senior, third basemen

Demetre Koutras, River Hill, junior, middle infield

Jack Lloyd, Reservoir, junior, pitcher

Roman Mastramico, Oakland Mills, senior, first basemen,

Jonah Obitz, Marriotts Ridge, freshman, catcher

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Jordan Peguese, Reservoir, senior, outfielder

Seth Rosenfeld, Long Reach, freshman, middle infield

Chris Savage, Marriotts Ridge, senior, pitcher

DJ Stolba, Glenelg, junior, outfielder

Riley Suszkiw, Glenelg, junior, corner infield

Andrew Varga, Wilde Lake, sophomore, utility

Final 2022 standings

1. River Hill: 16-4 overall, 14-1 county (county champion); 2. Reservoir: 19-5, 13-4 (3A East Region II champion, state semifinalist); 3. Glenelg: 18-5, 11-5 (2A West Region II champion, state champion); 4. Marriotts Ridge: 11-8, 9-6; 5. Long Reach: 9-8, 9-7; 6. Atholton: 8-11, 7-7; 7. Howard: 7-9, 7-10; 8. Centennial: 10-10, 7-9 (3A East Region I champion); 9. Mt. Hebron: 10-11, 6-9 (3A East Region I finalist); 10. Hammond: 6-11, 5-10; 11. Wilde Lake: 5-13, 5-11; 12. Oakland Mills: 1-17, 0-16. MIAA B Conference Glenelg Country (11-10, 9-7); MIAA C Conference Chapelgate Christian (4-10, 3-9).