W. Charles ral­lies past St. Mary’s

Home runs high­light ninein­ning CHASM show­down

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

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.

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