Another chance to shine
SMAC players take the field for Crabfest AllAmerican games
In the hours that followed the Brooks Robinson All-Star game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on Sunday, Leonardtown High School graduate Bowen Plagge became something of a jet-setter.
Plagge, who had the first hit of the game on Sunday afternoon as the South squad, comprised of four other recent Southern Maryland Athletic Conference graduates, defeated the North team, 5-2, flew to Auburn University in Alabama early Monday morning then flew back to Maryland early Wednesday morning after his Tuesday flight was postponed by inclement weather.
Plagge returned to Maryland that afternoon so he could participate in the Crabfest All-American Game at Regency Furniture Stadium in Waldorf, home of the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs. Plagge played for Team Bonsall, while his former Raiders teammate Derek Taitano, who is headed to College of Southern Maryland this fall, took the field for Team New Balance, which eventually prevailed 10-0.
“My top two choices are Auburn and Towson,” said Plagge, who entered the game as a pitcher in the top of the third inning with his team trailing 1-0. “The Auburn coach told me that I could definitely make the team as a walk-on, but he didn’t
know if I would get much playing time right away. I’m waiting to hear something from Towson this week.”
Plagge, who typically plays the outfield, surrendered a leadoff single to Colin Bergh before he retired Jacob Wyant on a grounder, fanned Will Pyne and then got Taitano on a grounder to second to end the inning.
Plagge could not escape trouble in the fourth. Team New Balance scored three runs — one earned — as the Leonardtown graduate walked two batters, hit another and allowed a hit but was doomed by a two-out error that enabled the final two runs to score.
He had the chance to bat in the bottom of the sixth with his team trailing 6-0. With two outs he was hit by a pitch and eventually reached third as Team Bonsall loaded the bases, but Plagge was stranded there when Paul Wilson fanned on an 0-ball, 2-strike pitch.
Taitano then collected his first hit of the game in the top of the fifth against Conor Grammes. Taitano led off the inning with a double down the left-field line and then scored when Joshua Hunter singled. Hunter took second on the throw home and then scored two batters later on a single by Austin Gregory. He grounded out to first in his last at-bat in the top of the ninth.
Like Plagge, Tyler Stockwell, a La Plata High School graduate who is headed to Rider University in New Jersey this fall, played in Sunday’s Brooks Robinson game and was also on hand for the Crabfest, albeit without the roundtrip flight to Alabama in between. Stockwell struck out looking in the first and then fanned in the fifth.
Stockwell caught the first two innings, but he suffered a left hand injury when his glove was struck by an opposing batter on his follow through. He then was sent to the mound for the eighth, largely unfamiliar territory, but did not fare well. The former Warrior allowed four runs, three earned, on four hits, two walks, an error and a wild pitch in his first outing in five years.
“I probably had not pitched since I was 13, but it was fun to go out there and throw an inning” said Stockwell, who will play this summer with the Bethesda Big Train in the Montgomery County Baseball League. “This game was a lot of fun. Being able to play here and at Camden Yards on Sunday was a great experience. It’s an honor to be able to play in these games.”
In the game for rising seniors that preceded it, La Plata High School’s Jake Hanks was the lone SMAC player for either squad as he played for Team Perfect Game, which played to a 4-4 draw in nine innings with Team Greene Turtle.
In his first at-bat, Hanks stepped to the plate with his team trailing 2-0 with runners on second and third. Hanks fouled off the first pitch, but looked at two straight strikes to fan looking.
Hanks was considerably busier in the fifth. In his first of two innings on the mound, he allowed a leadoff single to Harold Cortijo then fanned Jordan Adair. Hanks then walked Ran Dove, but, with two runners aboard, fanned Justin Luedecking and Wyatt Church to end the threat.
Hanks then had a chance to help his own cause in the bottom of the frame. With runners on second and third, he watched the first pitch bounce past him to allow a run to score. Hanks struck out swinging on a 2-2 pitch, but Team Perfect Game eventually scored three times that inning to tie the game before he went back to the mound for the sixth.
In the top of the sixth, Hanks retired Austin Chavis and surrendered a single to left by Richard Carey, but escaped any harm that inning when he retired Sergio Burgos on a popup to second and Carey was doubled up after stranding too far off the first base bag.
“It was an honor playing with a lot of the best rising seniors in the state,” Hanks said. “I had a good time and I had the chance to make some new friends. I think I could have done a little better in my two innings out there. I really want to work on my velocity this summer. This past season was great. It was definitely the most fun that I’ve ever had.”
One game earlier in the secondary game for rising seniors, Team Play It Again defeated Team BATS 6-4 as St. Mary’s Ryken hurler Jackson Schmidt tossed a perfect ninth inning to earn the save. Schmidt, a Huntingtown resident, needed only eight pitches to retire the side in order and collect the save, retiring the final batter on a weak fly ball to center.
One game earlier in the second of two Junior All-American Games, Charles Burroughs (Chopticon), Eric Hampton (North Point) and Tyler Taitano (Leonardtown) played for Team Bases, while Nicholas Steury (La Plata) played for Team Diamond. In the opener for Juniors, Nick Burch (Leonardtown), Peyton Gray (La Plata), Robert Jurney (Northern), Bryce Leslie (Northern), Marcus Lee Sang (Northern), John Mattingly (St. Mary’s Ryken) Austin Simms (Southern Maryland Christian Academy) and Tanner Zinn (Patuxent) all participated.