Waldorf rallies for Big League state title
Baseball squad earns berth in regional tournament with eight-inning win vs. Caroline
On a day when it could not have started much worse, the Waldorf Big League baseball team rallied from a 5-1 deficit to defeat District 6 champion Caroline County, 7-6, in eight innings on Sunday at Robert D. Stethem Park in Waldorf to capture the Maryland state tournament.
Waldorf spotted Caroline a 2-0 lead in the first inning thanks to three
errors and eventually the District 7 champions fell behind 5-1 after five innings in large part to seven errors. But Waldorf overcame its inept fielding and eventually scored two runs in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings to forge the 7-6 victory that propelled the squad to the regional tournament in Dover, Del., July 15 to 17.
Waldorf’s chances for a victory seemed bleak and the prospects of a second game to decide the state title loomed on a day with clouds and occasional drizzle, but it responded after falling behind to earn a gritty triumph.
“We got off to a shaky start, but even as the game went on when we were behind the emotional level kept getting higher in the dugout,” said Waldorf coach Dale Schnoor, who celebrated his first state title in 10 seasons at the helm. “Our pitching was pretty good, but we made too many defensive mistakes early. Fortunately the bats came around.”
During Waldorf’s successful run through the District 7 tournament on the same field last week, pitcher Sam Wright was virtually unhittable. Sunday, Wright allowed five runs, two earned, on seven hits in five innings and he was on the hook for the loss entering the sixth with his team trailing 5-1. Three Waldorf errors in the first enabled Caroline to score twice.
Waldorf would later benefit on the mound and at the plate from a pair of recent additions to the squad, Leonardtown High School graduates Tyler Wall and Austin Welch. Wall pitched a scoreless sixth, overcoming two errors by Wright to start the inning by striking out two batters with runners on second and third.
Waldorf finally put consecutive hits together in the sixth as Caroline starter Alex Usilton showed signs of fatigue. Welch started a rally when he reached on a one-out error then Alan Ashford and Nick Russell followed with consecutive singles and Wright plated a run with a sacrifice fly to center to narrow the hosts’ deficit to 5-3.
Welch tossed a scoreless seventh and watched his teammates rally to draw even. Wall crushed a leadoff triple to right-center field, which chased Usilton after throwing 109 pitches. Ben Roche then greeted reliever James Hastings with a double to left-center that enabled Wall to trot home and Jeff Nelson followed with a single to right, scoring Roche to tie the game at 5-5.
Hastings escaped further damage by retiring the next three Waldorf hitters and Caroline regained the lead in the top of the eighth against Welch. Devon Lednum drew a one-out walk, Tyler Harding followed with a bloop single to shallow left and Dan Edris beat out an infield single, allowing Lednum to score the go-ahead run.
Welch escaped more trouble by striking out two of the last three Caroline batters he faced and would eventually get the win. Austin Ball had a one-out double, then Terry Mattingly beat out an infield single and stole second. Ball scored on an infield single by Wall, then Roche delivered sent a Hastings pitch off the fence in center for a long single that plated Mattingly with the winning run.
“Even when we were down, we just knew that if we could get a couple of runs on the board, then we could come all the way back,” Welch said. “Sam pitched well, but we made too many mistakes. You can’t have three errors in one inning, but we settled down and eventually the bats came alive. It was exciting to watch everything happen. It’s exciting to be going to regionals.”
Waldorf starting pitcher Sam Wright fires home in the top of the first inning of Sunday’s Big League state championship game at Stethem Park in Waldorf. Wright allowed five runs, two earned, in five innings but did not get a decision as Waldorf rallied from a 5-1 deficit to defeat Caroline, 7-6, in eight innings on Sunday.
Waldorf displays the championship banner after capturing the Maryland Big League state tournament title over Caroline County on Sunday afternoon. Waldorf rallied from a 5-1 deficit to prevail 7-6 in eight innings and will next play in the regional tournament July 15 to 17 in Dover, Del.