O’Dell, Cubs blank Davis, West­ern Charles in CHASM

Pitcher throws 5-hit shutout in one-run win

Maryland Independent - - Sports - By TED BLACK tblack@somd­news.com Twit­ter: tblack­somds1

The open­ing game of Saturday af­ter­noon’s Coors Charles-St. Mary’s Base­ball League twin­bill be­tween the Cubs and West­ern Charles at Rain­bow Con­struc­tion field in La Plata fea­tured a stel­lar pitch­ing duel be­tween op­pos­ing hurlers who have only re­cently trav­eled sim­i­lar paths.

Cubs ace Zach O’Dell and West­ern Charles hurler Josh Davis did not grow up near one an­other or at­tend neigh­bor­ing high schools, but they both found them­selves on the pitch­ing staff at Frost­burg State Univer­sity and now oc­ca­sion­ally face one an­other in CHASM base­ball games each sum­mer.

Saturday, O’Dell got the bet­ter of Davis in a gen­uine pitch­ers duel as he made a one-run lead stand in the first in­ning en route to a 1-0 vic­tory. Davis suf­fered a tough-luck loss after he al­lowed a run on two hits in the top of the first as West­ern Charles never got the equal­izer.

“I thought the key was be­ing able to get ahead of them in the count and keep mix­ing my fast­ball and slider,” O’Dell said. “The key is be­ing able to stay out of trou­ble. One of the big­gest outs was in the first in­ning when I was able to get Johnny [Klopfer] on a fly ball with a run­ner on third.”

The Cubs (1-2 after split­ting Saturday’s dou­ble­header) had staked O’Dell to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first, although nei­ther the hurler or his man­ager could have ex­pected that run to stand as the lone scor­ing play of the con­test. Brant But­ler greeted Davis a lead­off sin­gle and later scored on a two-out sin­gle by Cubs first base­man Ian Ca­ballero.

“I was just wait­ing for Zach or one of their field­ers to make a mis­take,” Davis said. “He’s a re­ally good pitcher. We pitched to­gether at Frost­burg, where I fin­ished and now we face each other here. Both teams had chances to score moe runs, but the de­fenses were great. Nei­ther team made a mis­take.”

West­ern Charles (4-1 after Saturday’s split) had its best chance of get­ting a run against O’Dell in the sec­ond. Ricky Brady led off with a sin­gle to cen­ter and Johnny Kehres had a one­out sin­gle to left. But O’Dell fanned Dan Ladd and then re­tired Keith Wood on a grounder to first to end the threat. It would prove the only time that West­ern Charles had two run­ners aboard in the same frame against O’Dell.

The Cubs nearly gave O’Dell a lit­tle cush­ion in the third when But­ler and Justin Ar­miger had one-out sin­gles and later ad­vanced when Clarke Rollins grounded out. But Davis re­tired Ca­ballero on a grounder to sec­ond to end the threat and keep his team within a run of the equal­izer.

The Cubs had a chance to ex­tend its lead for O’Dell in the fifth when they at­tained three hits against Davis, but an early base run­ning mis­take cost them a chance to score.

Ger­ardo Chavez, the Cubs num­ber nine bat­ter in the or­der, led off with a sin­gle to right but was promptly picked off first by catcher Chris Blondin. Ar­miger and Rollins later had two-out sin­gles and ad­vanced on a wild pitch be­fore Davis re­tired Ca­ballero on a grounder back to the mound that he ini­tially fum­bled and back­handed to first.

After West­ern Charles got two hits against O’Dell in the sec­ond, it would have lim­ited scor­ing chances there­after against the Cubs ace. B.J. Kit­tle had a two-out sin­gle in the third, Blondin drew a one-out walk in the fourth and Klopfer had a one-out sin­gle in the sixth. West­ern Charles went down qui­etly in the fifth and sev­enth as O’Dell struck out the last two bat­ters swing­ing to end it.

“It was a great out­ing by Zach,” Cubs man­ager Tony Sweeney said. “He got ahead of the hit­ters and then kept them off bal­ance. We got a run in the first and that was pretty much it. Nei­ther team did much after that.”

West­ern Charles gained a mea­sure of re­venge in Game 2, how­ever, by blank­ing the Cubs, 6-0, as Ladd got the bet­ter of Cubs starter Sweeney.

STAFF PHOTO BY TED BLACK

Cubs pitcher Zach O’Dell glances over his shoul­der to check the run­ner on first as first base­man Ian Ca­ballero awaits a po­ten­tial throw. O’Dell blanked West­ern Charles on five hits as the Cubs pre­vailed 1-0 in their CHASM twin­bill opener on Saturday.

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