Wal­dorf ral­lies for Big League state title

Base­ball squad earns berth in re­gional tour­na­ment with eight-in­ning win vs. Caro­line

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

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.”

PHOTO BY KATY OVERBY STAFF PHOTO BY TED BLACK

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.

STAFF PHOTO BY TED BLACK

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.

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