O’Dell, Cubs blank Davis, Western Charles in CHASM
Pitcher throws 5-hit shutout in one-run win
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.
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.