Hughesville reaches state tournament final
11-12 baseball team holds on for win over Laurel
On an evening that began with youthful Haley Arnold performing a rendition of the National Anthem on her violin, the Hughesville 11- and 12-year-old baseball team delivered a virtuoso performance with its bats en route to an 8-7 victory over Laurel on Tuesday in the state tournament at Robert D. Stethem Park in Waldorf.
Hughesville advanced to Thursday’s championship round opener and could return on Friday for a possible “if” game. Tuesday evening, the local squad displayed plenty of resilience and a hint of insight when it outlasted Laurel in the winners’ bracket final.
“This team just battles,” Hughesville coach Chester Bowling said. “We gave up three runs in the top of the first inning, but we came right back. We got good pitching and we still have all but one pitcher who can throw on Thursday or Friday. We came up with some big hits and we needed them because Laurel has some really good hitters.”
Laurel scored three runs in the top of the first inning against Hughesville starting pitcher Allen Miller. With one out, both Elijah Clary and Michael Stroud singled, then Marcus Jones crushed a Miller pitch over the fence in right-center field for a three-run home run and an early 3-0 Laurel lead, but it did not last long.
Hughesville’s Cole Harkness beat out an infield single, took second on a wild pitch then scored on a single to center by Miller. After Chet Bowling reached on a fielder’s choice that erased Miller
Chester Bowling said of giving Jones a free pass in the fifth. “I wasn’t about to pitch to him again.”
Borges then earned the save when he fanned the first two Laurel batters in the sixth and then induced Anders Kvale to ground out to second. The game’s final play was hardly routine, however, as Brown fielded the ball cleanly then fell backwards and then threw to first while sitting on the infield dirt.
Hughesville’s 11-12 baseball team is the last local team from the District 7 Little League champions standing. The Hughesville senior softball team dropped both games of the Northwest Region tournament, while the St. Mary’s 13-14 softball team was finally eliminated on Tuesday courtesy of a 5-0 loss to New Jersey. The Northern Calvert 9-10 baseball team reached the losers’ bracket final of the state tournament before falling.
“We had some opportunities,” St. Mary’s coach Jerry Burch said. “We just could not come up with the big hit. It was a good experience for all the girls, though. We got to face some really good teams.” Twitter: tblacksomds1 Durrington grounded out and pinch-hitter Ryan Suhr fanned.
“We had to put him on,” reliever Borges, much to the dismay of the Laurel faithful but it proved to be tactically correct as Drew Dylan Brown that extended the lead to 8-3.
Laurel, however, did not go away quietly. Harkness started the inning on the mound and did no retire a single batter, then Jones greeted reliever Bowling by belting his second three-run homer of the game which quickly narrowed the visitors’ deficit to 8-7. Neither team scored over the remainder of the game and Jones would not get another swing.
In the top of the fifth, Clary led off with a double off Pesante, then Stroud fanned. With one runner on second, Jones was intentionally walked by at second, Blake Pesante belted a two-run homer to left-center. Two batters later, Alex Borges homered to the same spot to give Hughesville a 4-3 lead.
Hughesville promptly added to its lead by scoring four more runs in the second, all with two outs. Harkness started the rally with a solo homer then Miller reached on an error to keep the inning alive. Miller would later score on an error, followed by RBI singles from Borges and
Hughesville starting pitcher Allen Miller fires home in the top of the first inning against Laurel on Tuesday evening in the 11-12 state baseball tournament at Robert D. Stethem Park in Waldorf. Miller allowed three runs in the first, but Hughesville eventually prevailed 8-7 over Laurel to reach Thursday’s championship round.
Hughesville’s Chet Bowling stands at first base in the bottom of the second inning after drawing a two-out walk to keep a rally going. Bowling also pitched on Tuesday and picked up the win in relief as Hughesville edged Laurel 8-7 in the 11-12 state baseball tournament at Robert D. Stethem Park in Waldorf. STAFF PHOTO BY TED BLACK