W. Charles rallies past St. Mary’s
Home runs highlight nineinning CHASM showdown
On a day when one player filled in as his team’s manager and the opposing manager found himself unexpectedly playing, Western Charles outlasted St. Mary’s for an 8-7 victory on Saturday afternoon in Coors CharlesSt. Mary’s Baseball League action at Rainbow Construction field in La Plata.
St. Mary’s first baseman Chris D’Antuono filled in as his team’s manager on Saturday, while normal skipper Drew Willard was attending a wedding. Western Charles manager Tony Stefko appeared content to coach third base, but in the bottom of the fourth inning he was forced to play when second baseman Johnny Kehres was ejected by the home plate umpire after questioning the location of a called strike.
Western Charles led 3-1 after four innings, but St. Mary’s drew even in the top of the fifth, although Stefko started a nifty 4-6-3 double play that perhaps prevented a big inning. St. Mary’s claimed its second lead of the game when Simon Klink belted a two-run home run off Western Charles starter Daniel Ladd, prompting Stefko to hook Ladd in favor of Nik Nowottnick.
“Daniel usually doesn’t have to pitch that long,” Stefko said. “For him to get
into the sixth was really good. He gave us a chance to win. Nik came in and did a great job. He basically allowed only two runs to the same guy.”
Although he is not from the area, Nowottnick might quickly become a household name in CHASM. He was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles and gradually climbed the ranks from the rookie league to short-season, Single-A Aberdeen to low-A Delmarva to Single-A Frederick. But his ascension through the farm system ended this spring when he was released by the Orioles following spring training.
“I started off in rookie league ball and made it to Frederick,” said Nowottnick, who graduated from Colonel Richardson High School in Caroline County and later played at Chesapeake College and Towson University. “But after spring training this year the Orioles released me. It’s really been kind of relief. I never liked the long bus trips. This is a lot more fun. There’s no pressure on me here.”
Saturday afternoon, Nowottnick would eventually garner the win after pitching 3 1/3 innings of relief, but he was given a rude greeting by his opposing player/manager. On the first pitch that he saw from Nowottnick, D’Antuono belted a high fastball over the fence in straightaway center field and promptly flipped the bat before beginning his trot around the bases.
D’Antuono’s first of two solo homers would propel St. Mary’s to a 6-4 lead, but this time its second lead lasted a shorter duration that its 1-0 lead after one inning. Western Charles immediately countered with four runs in the bottom of the sixth against Greg Conden with shortstop Tyler Summers giving his squad the lead for good with a three-run homer. A bloop single by Johnny Klopfer III, his fourth hit of the day, produced another run for Western Charles.
“Daniel did a great job for us as our starter today and Nik came in and bascially shut the door,” Summers said. “When I came up [in the sixth], I was just looking for a good pitch to hit and drive somewhere. But everyone did their part today. We had plenty of hits and the pitching and defense were really good.”
Nowottnick retired eight straight batters at one stretch before D’Antuono made things interesting by hitting a solo homer to start the ninth. Nowottnick quickly settled down and retired the last three St. Mary’s batters on routine grounders. His performance impressed D’Antuono, although the St. Mary’s first baseman took him deep twice.
“Greg pitched well enough to win today,” D’Antuono said. “We didn’t give him a lot of support. We made three errors and all three of them proved costly. Their reliever [Nowottnick] came in and did a good job. I thought he would start me off with a fastball and I was able to get a hold of it. But overall we didn’t play as well as we normally do.”
Saturday’s contest was to make up a May 21 postponement. The two teams met again Sunday for a doubleheader at St. Mary’s College of Maryland and St. Mary’s got more than a small measure of revenge when it took two games from Western Charles, 2-1 and 3-2. St. Mary’s won both games in similar fashion, walk-off singles in the bottom of the eighth in the opener and bottom of the seventh in Game 2. League doubleheaders are two seven-inning regulation contests.
St. Mary’s (5-2) next plays Bumpy Oak in a doubleheader at 1 p.m. Sunday at St. Mary’s College to make up a May 22 postponement. Western Charles (5-3) will next play the Bayhawks at 1 p.m. Saturday at Rainbow Construction field.